I think that the week eight matchup with the Lions will serve as another of the season's litmus tests. We've faced some of the league's best offenses (Patriots with 445.3 total YPG) and some of the best defenses (Rams with 207.8 passing YPG [No.5]; Cowboys with 285.2 total defense YPG [No. 2]; and last week, 49ers with 272.3 total defense YPG [No.1]). What isn't surprising, then, is that the Lions have 419.6 total offense YPG, good for second in the league. What is surprising is that the Lions have 324 total defense YPG, ninth in the league. This will be one of our more challenging games of the season.
What is needed, then, for victory?
We will most mirror our gameplan against the Patriots. Both have strong run defenses (Patriots with 82.7 YPG and Lions with 96.4 YPG), but weak secondaries (Patriots with 288.8 and Lions with 227.6--the fourth worst secondary we've faced thus far). Wilson should have enough time to implement this and let our routes with Rice and Tate develop, as the Lions are tied for eighteenth in the league for sacks. Expect more total yardage and points out of this game.
The name of the game is Calvin Johnson, the number one offensive threat on the Lions. Although he has managed respectable numbers in receptions and yards this season, his touchdown numbers are surprising--one. Whether this is more indicative of him or the Lion's coaching schemes, I don't know, but I know it bodes quite well for us--even more so because our secondary possesses the physical attributes to measure well against him. I don't expect Johnson to manage more than fifty yards for the game.
As far as their rushing gameplan--it will be a non-threat, as the Lions just manage a scant 99.8 rushing YPG (No.19)--the fourth worst we've faced thus far. We should expect Bryant and Mebane and Co. to redeem themselves here.
The greatest defensive challenge will be the pass rush. The Lions' offensive line has allowed nine sacks on the year (tied for fifth best in the league with the Cowboys). To reemphasize this point, remember the lack of pass rush we generated in the game against the 49ers and then remember that the 49ers have allowed twenty sacks on the year--third worst in the league. If we are to succeed here, we must emulate our success against the Cowboys.
Overzealous statistical data-dumping aside, this will be quite a challenge for us, but one we'll be able to overcome. I think that a win in Detroit will kick us off on a nice little streak.