Week 5 Preview, Detroit at Washington

Detroit LionsWashington Redskins
The Detroit Lions – check that – the new and improved Detroit Lions (3-1) and the Washington Redskins (2-1) have some striking similarities, but also some differences going into today’s match up in D.C. The similarities – both teams have stockpiled wide receivers over the past few years. The Lions have WR’s Roy Williams (26 catches, 388 yards, 3 TD’s), Shaun McDonald (21-268-3 TD’s), Mike Furrey (20-246) and rookie Calvin Johnson (10-189-2 TD’s). The Redskins counter with Santana Moss (12-199) who will not play today, Antwaan Randle El (11-238), Brandon Lloyd (may play today – shin), Steven Harris (IR-knee), Mike Espy (IR-knee) and newly-signed Keenan McCardell, who may play this week.

The Lions have plenty of offense – through the air. Led by their star quarterback Jon Kitna (98-of-138, 1,227 yards, 8 touchdowns, 4 interceptions) and supported by the aforementioned WR’s – Williams, McDonald, Furrey and Johnson (who may be out for today’s game), Kitna has plenty of targets to throw to. The running game is subpar, as they attempt to use a tandem of RB’s Tatum Bell (40 rushes, 167 yards, 1 touchdown) and slowly incorporating Kevin Jones into the mix. The Lions’ defense, while ranked 29th overall, have some impressive stats; defensive end Jared DeVries leads the team in sacks with 3 with several others with 2 (14 team sacks), while cornerback Keith Smith leads the team with 2 INTs’ (one returned for a TD). The Lions have 9 INT’s over 4 games, which is impressive. Could those numbers mean that they’re getting these numbers late in games?

The Redskins have simply been hurting at wide receiver – literally. The aforementioned WR’s – Lloyd, Harris, and Espy – are injured, which in turn necessitated the signing of McCardell. The running game of the team is an enigma as well; RB Clinton Portis (48-227-3 TD’s) is probable today (knee tendonitis), but a better effort from Ladell Betts is neccesary, period. Their starting QB, Jason Campbell is a work in progress; his numbers are mediocre (44-of-84, 621 yards, 2 TD’s, 3 INT’s). But despite that, he will improve over time. The defense is what has been their calling card, led by LB London Fletcher (29 tackles, 22 solo). Nothing spectacular about them – just efficient.

The Lions’ chances to win lie solely on – you guessed it – their passing game. I wouldn’t be shockedd to see 45+ attempts by Kitna Sunday afternoon and surpass 325 yards. Not a knock on the Skins’ secondary – remember what Kitna did to Chicago? That’s just the nature of the Lions’ offense. The Redskins have a chance to emerge victorious assuming that Portis and Betts can establish a running attack to set up Campbell’s passing game which can be efective early against the Lions’ secondary. A pass rush by the Skins would help their cause too. When the smoke clears, I look for the Lions to win in DC, due mainly to the arm of Kitna and possibly some inspired special teams play.

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