The Detroit Lions are within a week of a pivotal Thanksgiving Day game against the Green Bay Packers, but first will have to find a way to avoid falling victim to a 2-8 Tampa Bay Buccaneers squad that suddenly finds itself on a win streak. A division leader with a big game on the horizon taking on a lowly bottom dweller, this has trap game written all over it.
So often we see a quality team knocked off by a huge underdog simply because they have mentally written off their opponent before the game even kicked off. The Detroit Lions have to find a way to avoid falling into that mental trap if they want to maintain their NFC North lead over the Bears and Packers.
For the most part this season the Lions have avoided the costly loss. At 6-4 on the year two, and arguably three, of their losses come against quality opponents. Losing games to the Packers and Cincinnati Bengals is nothing to be ashamed of. Last week’s defeat to the Pittsburgh Steelers as well as a loss to the Arizona Cardinals earlier in the season are more concerning blemishes.
One could argue that losing to the 6-4 Cardinals is nothing to be ashamed of, but no one is taking them seriously as a playoff team this year. Other than the win against Detroit, the Carolina Panthers are the only winning team the Cardinals have bested in 2013, and that win came at a time when the Panthers were just 1-3 and sputtering out of the gates.
Bottom line, Detroit has lost two games against suspect opponents already this year, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers look ready to add their name to that list.
Three weeks ago there was not a chance this article would ever have been written. An 0-8 Buccaneers team looked ready to kick coach Greg Schiano to the curb and explode the entire roster in the offseason so they could rebuild from scratch. Now the future suddenly doesn’t look as bleak if you’re a fan of the Bucs.
Offensively the running game continues to thrive despite losing the top two running backs on the roster to injury. Last week it was Bobby Rainey who stepped into the role of feature back, and the results were astonishing. Rainey, a former undrafted free agent, exploded for 163 yards and three touchdowns in a win against the Atlanta Falcons. Detroit is tough against the run, but Rainey should at least find enough success to keep the defense honest in his encore performance.
Quarterback Mike Glennon has been impressive in his rookie season. The third round draft pick out of North Carolina State has came into his own already. Standing at 6’6″, Glennon towers over the line and has a bird’s eye view of what’s going on downfield. This has helped him develop quickly. Despite starting just seven games this year, he has amassed over 1,500 yards and 11 touchdowns to go along with just 4 interceptions. Not bad for a rookie.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have the weapons to keep up with the Detroit Lions in a shootout. If Rainey can pound the ball on the ground, Glennon could have a field day against this struggling secondary, Vincent Jackson is a very good play this week in fantasy football.
Defensively the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are less than stellar, a large reason for their 0-8 start, typically that would spell their demise against a high power offense, except they match up well with the Detroit Lions.
Wide receiver Calvin Johnson is the focal point of the Lions attack, that is a secret to no one at this point. But what some of you may have forgot is that the man considered to be the best corner in football by many resides on the Bucs roster. Revis Island will be back, as Tampa Bay surely will use their best player to shadow Megatron across the field all day. Contain him, and the Lions will fall.
Matt Stafford is not nearly as effective when not throwing to Megatron, and Reggie Bush is far from a sure bet to shoulder an offense on his own.
If Revis can have a good game and Glennon avoids mistakes, the Detroit Lions will find themselves in serious trouble. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are a classic trap game, and the Detroit Lions may be caught on Sunday.
Prediction: Buccaneers 34, Lions 28