After practice and traveling to Jacksonville this week Matthew Stafford and the Detroit Lions already got familiar with with their opponents by acquiring WR Mike Thomas earlier in the week. A day after passing a physical the 5’8″ Thomas was already catching passes and fielding punts. If that gives you an idea of why he was traded for a 4th round pick another look inside to why Mayhew did this is the Lions rank dead last in kickoff return yards.
As the Lions look to get back to .500 the 1-6 Jaguars are as much of trap game as the Lions could get. On paper Jacksonville doesn’t do anything well ranking last in the NFL in throwing the football. QB Blaine Gabbert has 1209 yards and 7 touchdowns with no real play making threat as Jag fans are disappointed in WR Justin Blackmon whom was thought to be the go to stud for Gabbert. Emerging however for the Jaguars is WR Cecil Shorts who is coming off a big week accumulating 20 catches for 400 yards thus far this season.
Detroit’s offense should also be relishing at the opportunity to make it two straight weeks of strong offensive performances. The Jaguars haven’t held an opponent under 24 points this year with the opposition averaging 250 yards through the air. This certainly bodes well for the Lions who are 2nd in the NFL in throwing the football with a 325 yard avg per game. Detroit wide outs also come into the game 2nd in the NFL in catches even with Calvin Johnson having a so-so start to this year. Almost half way through Johnson has dropped 7 balls on 48 attempts good for 4th among receivers. Even so Megatron remains one of football’s most dangerous weapon’s as he leads in catches over 20 yards.
Quarterback Matthew Stafford should also find lots of time to get Detroit an earlier lead as Jacksonville doesn’t create a lot of pressure. LB Paul Posluszny is about the only bright spot on defense the jaguars have right now with the Jacksonville front four relatively being a non-threat.
This is a game tailored to get the Lions to a .500 record. The Jaguar offense has seen 20 QB sacks and with the pressure Suh and company have created the last 3 weeks, it is likely QB pressure on Blaine Gabbert continues as he’s been sacked 17 times himself. Factor in what the Lions have been able to do against top running backs this year like Lynch, Forte, Gore, Peterson and Jackson and their numbers don’t look so bad. Detroit has kept most of these studs in check and has many tackles for losses. Teams know this and again Detroit will have to be ready for trap plays off their aggressive front four.
I think the Lions see a 30 point out put this week with Jacksonville not having a dangerous offense however the Lions can’t lose focus and think this game is a gimmie. Blaine Gabbert is more of a manager of the football and does not take a lot of shots like Russell Wilson did last week and in retrospect will not turn the ball over either. However Gabbert completes a low percentage and his yards per completion is under 6 yards making the Jaguars QB dead last in the NFL.
I also don’t suspect a big breakdown on special teams again. However the Lions are one of the worst teams in the return game as Stephan Logan has not been the player he was in past seasons. That might all change though with that acquisition of Thomas.
Prediction: The Lions go on the road to a 31-13 victory. We saw Schwartz and Cunningham get real hot last week with a sloppy start on defense with 5 penalties to start against Seattle. After that however we saw the Detroit offense click all game.
If Detroit gets a lead by half time it should be game over.
Jacksonville doesn’t have the fire power to get back into a game with Detroit and I really like what Linehan did last week with the offense.