The Detroit Lions (2-7) host the Oakland Raiders (4-5) on Sunday at Ford Field at 1 PM. This game is the start of a three game home stand for the Lions. Detroit plays three home games in a span of 12 days. The Lions are coming off a huge win at Lambeau Field against Green Bay (18-16) and the Raiders have lost their last two games. The Raiders haven’t won in Detroit since 1990 or beat the Lions since 1996. The Raiders, led by Head Coach Jack Del Rio and young QB Derek Carr, boasts a strong offense but a weak defense.
Matchups and Stats
Lions Passing Offense against Raiders Poor Passing Defense
The Lions continue to have offensive issues (protection and run game) but have the QB and weapons to put up points on the Raiders’ struggling defense. The Raiders are 31st in pass yards allowed per game while giving up 64.2% completion, 7.2 YPA and 16 passing TDS in 9 games. The Raiders have forced 19 sacks in 9 games and bring an inconsistent pass rush. The Raiders pass rush has taken a hit with the injury to DE Justin Tuck and the one year suspension of Aldon Smith.
Detroit has plenty of weapons with Calvin Johnson (740 yards 3 TDs), Golden Tate (429 yards and 1 TD), Eric Ebron (320 yards and 3 TDs), RB Theo Riddick (373 yards and 2 TDs) and Lance Moore (286 yards and 4 TDS). If Stafford is protected, he can have a big game against the Raiders mostly young secondary. Stafford better be wary of veteran HOF bound Charles Woodson and the Raiders 9 interceptions on the year. Former 1st round pick DJ Hayden was injured against the Vikings and may not play against Detroit. This would make the Raiders secondary even weaker.
Detroit must protect like they did last week against Green Bay and account for Khalil Mack on every play. Stafford has 15 TDs and 64.4% completion on the year and could have a nice day with time to throw and maybe some short fields (special team returns or turnovers).
Lions Abysmal Run Game against a Terrible Run Defense
The Lions are still on pace to have the worst running game in the history of the NFL (only 602 yards and 3.4 YPC through 9 games). The good news is the Raiders are 28th in the league allowing 4.7 YPC. If there is a week the Lions can run the ball, this would be that week.
Bell had one nice week against the Chiefs (only 8 carries) but was beyond terrible in Green Bay (14 carries for only 17 yards). It is to be determined if they will stick with Bell as the workhorse back or give Abdullah or Riddick more touches. Abdullah showed some flashes against Green Bay and in other games and is an excellent kick returner. However, Abdullah needs to prove he can hang onto the ball to take carries away from Bell. Riddick is mainly a good receiving threat only at this point but deserves more rush attempts.
Lions Pass Defense against a Protected Car with Weapons
The Lions had a strong pass defense outing against Green Bay last week. Detroit is still giving up an extremely high YPA and completion percentage with only 4 interceptions forced. Detroit has an above average pass rush and some talent in the secondary (Quin and Slay). Detroit will have their hands full with a very potent Raiders passing attack. Derek Carr has a 101.4 QB Rating (6th), 7.6 YPA with 64.2% 21 TDs and only 6 interceptions. Carr is having a great second year in the league.
Detroit will need big games from Crezdon Butler (signed last Saturday), Quandre Diggs (rookie burnt toast typically but not in Lambeau) and Bill Bentley (signed on Tuesday, former Lions 3rd round pick from 2012). Nevin Lawson (who blanketed Davante Adams) has a concussion and Josh Wilson (nickel CB) went to IR with a knee injury after big games in Lambeau. Typical bad luck for Detroit, they show good things with two corners and then they get hurt.
Slay, Quin, Isa Abdul Quddus and the Lions LBs will need another strong coverage performance to mask some of the deficiencies from the new players. Crabtree or Seth Roberts could have a big day against Butler, Diggs or Bentley. Slay should shadow Cooper.
The second year QB is having a great year mainly targeting Amari Cooper (81 targets) and Michael Crabtree (85 targets). Cooper is a rookie beast worthy of the 4th pick in the draft. Cooper has 732 yards and 4 TDs on the season (14.6 YPC). Crabtree is a possession receiver with 646 yards and 5 TDS (12.7 YPC).
The Lions must generate a strong pass rush but the Raiders protection has been excellent (12 sacks only allowed). Donald Penn (sorry Bucs fans) revived his career at left tackle and Gabe Jackson is a good left guard drafted by Reggie McKenzie. Rodney Hudson was a great center acquisition from the Chiefs but has missed the last two games. JaMarcus Webb has also revived his career in Oakland somehow (sorry Bears fans). Finally, Austin Howard has adjusted well to the move from right tackle to right guard.
The Raiders have a very good offensive line in both protection and run blocking. Ziggy Ansah, Haloti Ngata, Jason Jones, Carraun Reid must generate a pass rush. Austin must dial up smart blitzes against the young QB in Carr. Darius Slay trying to maintain his sticky coverage against Amari Cooper is probably the biggest matchup of the game.
Lions Rush Defense against Murray
The Raiders can run the ball well with good run blocking and Latavius Murray. Murray has 4.7 YPC on 144 attempts. The Raiders strictly use Murray only to run the ball but he is quick, powerful and has good vision. The Lions run defense will have a tough test.
The Lions have played good run defense in 6 games this year and atrocious run defense in 3 games. The Lions will need to dial up another good run defense game with sound gap integrity and very good tackling on Murray.
The Lions have turned the ball over 21 times which is the worst in the league still. Detroit must avoid turnovers like they did against Green Bay (only 1 turnover allowed). Giving the Raider’s potent offense turnovers is a recipe for disaster. The Raiders have forced an average amount of 14 turnovers.
The Lions have forced only 11 turnovers and the Raiders have lost 15 turnovers (below average). Detroit must come up with two turnovers in this game or figure out how to score 28 or more points to keep up with Oakland’s offense.
Prediction but Not Really
The Lions need to win every game. Detroit matches up nicely with Oakland and the game will be at Ford Field. The Lions are coming off an epic win at Lambeau. If there is a time to get some momentum, this would be the time.