The Redskins have collided with the Lions three times in the last three season. Last year, the Lions ended a 19-game losing streak at the expense of the Redskins.
Though the Lions only have one win so far this season, they have been very competitive and have the ability to score points. I feel they will make it tough and they do have a chance to beat the Redskins.
To understand a bit more about the Lion, I decided to chat it up and talk ball with two awesome bloggers:
Joshua Pung- he is the lead writer for the Road of the Lions. He has great stuff on his page, check him out.
Al Beaton- I stumbled onto his blog and found nothing but great content. Go check him out at the Wayne Fontes Experience!
What have been your impressions of the Detroit Lions so far this year?
Joshua Pung: The Detroit Lions are a team that has performed admirably under adversity while simultaneously shooting itself in the foot. The Joshua Pung: Lions played the Giants, for example, with their 3rd string QB and Calvin Johnson nursing an injured shoulder, and down to their 4th string MLB and 3rd String OLB (the 2nd string OLB was filling in at MLB). Injuries have been devastating thus far. HOWEVER – The Lions had chances to solidly win every game but the one at Minnesota and repeatedly committed stupid penalties at the worst time. Stupid personal fouls, offsides, late hits – usually on 3rd and long, or first and goal. Situationally at the worst time possible. Just plain dumb penalties cost them winnable games against the Giants and Eagles.
Al Beaton: They’re still a couple of years worth of solid drafts away from competing for a playoff spot. The combo of GM Martin Mayhew and head coach Jim Schwartz are making the right moves, not getting spendy in free agency at the wrong positions (unlike a former GM whom I’ve tried to purge from my memory…it’s going to take a lobotomy) and building through the draft. So far the Lions appear to be headed back on track (not yet on track, as the aforementioned mustachioed moron had the Lions so far off track, the actual track was only a rumor). Mayhew two drafts have been quite good, and Schwartz has a firm hold on the team and locker room. As for the season itself, I didn’t expect a fast start, but a fairly difficult early schedule with more road than home games, and injuries to vital players stalled the Lions’ progress towards mediocrity. Matthew Stafford, Nate Burleson, Deandre Levy, Jahvid Best, Calvin Johnson, Louis Delmas, Zack Follett, all starters, have either missed significant amounts of time or had to play through fairly serious injuries. No team in the NFL needed a bye week more than the Lions. The Lions have an easier schedule in the second half, and most of the injuries have healed. So more is going to be expected of the Lions. A 6 win season is not out of the question. Which may not sound like much, but when you’ve only won two games in two seasons, it would be a significant improvement.
Ok, let’s look at the bright spots. Who are you offensive and defensive MVPs?
Joshua Pung: Offensively, Shaun Hill stepping in for Matthew Stafford comes to mind. He played very well filling in for Stafford, and was not the main reason they didn’t win. Defensively, I’m just going to say the defensive line. They as a unit have worked very well together allowing the singled up guys to consistently make plays and get pressure while forcing teams to take steps to counteract the pass rush. Corey Williams in particular is having a monster year. Suh, Avril, and Vandenbosch have been far from slackers, but Williams has been just that good.
Al Beaton: Offensively, I have to go with the now injured QB, Shaun Hill. Hill wasn’t spectacular, more of a game manager, but with the veteran backup under center the Lions are the third highest scoring team in the NFC. I’m as stunned as you are, believe me. Defensively, it’s rookie defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. Suh has been an out and out force on the defensive line. He’s been double teamed since day one, yet still leads the Lions in sacks with five. Suh is a true impact player, one who makes his teammates better. I’m very much looking forward to watching Suh develop into an All-Pro tackle…and he may be one already. Suh is that damn good.
Matthew Stafford is making his return, do you think he plays a factor in the Lions pulling out a win?
Joshua Pung: Yes. But it won’t just be Stafford’s return – the Lions are getting several key players healthy that have been out injured or dinged up. They held out 19 starters from their first two bye week practices just to give you an idea of the magnitude. So Health will be key to a run in the last 10 games. Another key will be limiting mistakes – the Lions are close to or leading the league in penalties and they need to stop beating themselves before they can beat their opponents. Finally, they had 4 of their first 6 on the road – including all three division road games in the first 4 weeks. That is a brutal schedule by any means. They have 6 of ten at home and the away games – Bills, Cowboys, Bucs and Dolphins are all winnable games. So yes, I think Stafford’s return along with a combination of other factors will spur a nice second half run that could see 5 or possibly six wins.
Al Beaton: If it doesn’t, questions about the direction of the Lions are going to be numerous and pointed.
Stafford is the future face of the Lions franchise, the player Mayhew and Schwartz are going to build around. It helps Stafford is the most gifted QB to come through Detroit in my lifetime. He has an arm mere mortals dream of having, and has already won over the locker room and fanbase thanks to his leadership ability. This is not Joey Harrington (aka Joey Blue Skies) we’re talking about. Stafford has the talent to be a Pro Bowl QB.
But expectations need to be tempered somewhat. Stafford may be a second year player, but has yet to play a full season. He has started only 11 games…and was knocked out of three of those with injuries. Injuries have been Stafford’s kryptonite. If anything, he needs to prove he can finish a season standing, instead of being helped off the field.
What concerns you about this Redskins team, although scrappy, has four wins?
Joshua Pung: Toughness and self control. The Redskins haven’t been particularly impressive, but they have been playing very disciplined football. First rule of football is don’t beat yourself and the ‘Skins haven’t been, while the Lions have. An injury decimated linebacking corps has helped teams run the ball well against Detroit, and the Ryan Torain led rushing attack could be in for a scary big day.
Al Beaton: Donovan McNabb may not be having one of his better seasons, but the Lions’ defense is known for allowing QB’s to have career games. Even McNabb is a vet, who is still mobile enough to avoid the Lions’ resurgent pass rush. I’m afraid he will pick the Lions secondary apart.
The Redskins may have some trouble stopping the Lions’ offense. But the Lions won’t stop the Redskins, period.
How confident are you that Lions will beat the Redskins for the second year in a row?
Joshua Pung: I’m not. No one should be confident either one of these teams will be beating the other – While the Redskins have a better win column total right now, both teams have been playing tough football and match up well. It could be anyone’s game.
Al Beaton: Not very. Jim Zorn isn’t around anymore.
Do I think the Lions can beat the Redskins? Sure. But if there is one thing I can say about the Lions is they never fail to disappoint. They have played well enough to win at least three other games this season, and didn’t. To use an old, moldy cliche, the Lions don’t know how to win. I’m not yet convinced the return of Stafford changes that fact.
Last year for at least one game versus the Skins, he played with the swagger of a seasoned veteran, will he have that same game changing ability this year?
Joshua Pung: He will have that and more. Stafford has started to grow into his potential. How much? That is what his game against the Redskins will show. The offense was clicking with Hill under center and there is no reason to think that with two weeks to get back into the swing of things that Stafford won’t fairly quickly merge with traffic and keep it rolling. Shaun Hill is an excellent backup and borderline starter. Stafford is that at minimum right now, with a better long ball and loads of potential.
Al Beaton: Stafford has talent and confidence to burn. If the offensive line can keep him on his feet, he will make plays…both good and bad. But keep in mind, Stafford’s confidence in his cannon of an arm gives him a tendency to force balls into coverage, as shown by his 13/20 TD/INT ratio.
But you did see one of the better games Stafford played last season. It was the Redskins and Browns games that convinced Lions fans Stafford is for real. The Browns win has been his crown jewel to this point of his short career. It was the best statistical game ever by a rookie QB (5 TD’s and 422 yards passing). It was also the game where Stafford separated his throwing shoulder getting planted while throwing a Hail Mary, then came off the sidelines, against the wishes of the Lions’ medical team, to throw the winning TD on the game’s final play.
I get all misty just thinking about it…
The Skins have played well in close games this year. If this game comes down to a 17-13 winner, who will it be?
Joshua Pung: If the game is that low scoring I’ll go with Washington. If it’s a higher score than that – into the 20’s then I’ll swing around and say the Lions win the shootout.
Al Beaton: I have to pick the Redskins. The close games the Redskins have won, the Lions would have lost.
The Lions have proven they aren’t ready for prime time or the ability to win close games. One other fact is the they Lions have been down for so long, they will not get the benefit of the doubt from the referees…as seen in the Bears loss that should have been a victory.
What is your game prediction and footnote?
Joshua Pung: I think this will be a close fought game that comes down the last few plays. It should be an exciting, intense game. Unfortunately, unless some miracle happens here in the local market it will be blacked out once again just like last year – meaning I’ll be watching it online come Tuesday evening via NFL Rewind. Sunday for me will be a day filled with trick or treating and visiting relatives in costume with the little pink lions. Too early to know who will get the trick, and who will get the treat come Sunday.
Al Beaton: Redskins win in an exciting game, 27-24.
The Lions’ offense may be respectable, but the defense is far from it. The back defensive seven is scary, and not in a fun, Halloween way. The linebacker corps have been devastated by injury, and the secondary devastated by a lack of talent. Until the Lions prove they can win consistently, I can’t pick them to beat anyone, even at home. If there is a way to lose a game, the Lions will find it.