NFL Gridiron Gab Week Nine Preview: New York Jets at Detroit Lions

Will Sanchez get back up in Detroit?

“It’s just not in his DNA to really pout about what happened.  He’s a fighter.  He’ll put that game behind him.”

– Jets OT Damien Woody on whether Mark Sanchez can bounce back from a rough game against Green Bay

I had the chance to talk to Robert Noel of the Lions Blog Detroit Mans Room and ask him a few questions about the Lions and tomorrow’s matchup.

I also answered some questions for him, which can be seen here.

Q: What has been the biggest change in this team from last year to this year?

A: Besides the obvious addition of players to key positions, The biggest change in this team has got to be just that, CHANGE. The feeling and attitudes throughout the locker room, is that we can come out and play against anyone. Not just show up then get blown out and demoralized, we have played competitively against many good teams this year. The leadership has greatly improved as well, between players stepping up (VandenBosch, Stafford, and Delmas), to everyone buying into the plan the coaches and front office already have in motion. I know it sounds Cliché, but this team believes they can win.

Q: How big of an impact has Ndamukong Suh made on this defense?

A: N-dam-u-kong Suh has been a beast thus far, that’s no secret. But what he does besides intercepting the ball, ripping QB’s heads off, or running fumbles back for touchdowns, is improve the entire D-Line. Suh was pulling double teams at the start of the season, leaving Corey Williams blocked by one man. Williams then started to wreak havoc in the pocket and teams didn’t know what to do. Suh hasn’t made all the plays on our line, but his pure presence has enabled the unit to perform as well as they have. I like to call them, The Disassembly line!

Q: Who are some of the less know players on the Lions that have stepped up this season?

A: As answer in the previous question, Corey Williams along with Cliff Avril have been very good for the lions. The biggest surprise for me personally has been the play of the offensive line. No NFC team has given up less sacks than the Lions O-Line at 12, (Jets have given up 11), Largely in part to the play of Jeff Backus and Gosder Cherilus (LT and RT). The O-line has truly learned to play as a team and give Stafford / Hill / Stanton more time. I think that is a large part of the reason why the Lions rank 3rd in the NFC for Yrds/G.

Q: This game features two quarterbacks drafted in the Top 5 of the 2009 NFL Draft, Matthew Stafford and Mark Sanchez. Who has played better so far in their young careers and who plays better on Sunday?

A: Well that is a difficult question to answer for both of us. Both players were drafted into completely different situations. “Sanchize” had everything given to him. “Staff-ize” (I’m sorry I had to try it just once.) was brought to Detroit to help re-build the team after hurricane Millen destroyed it. Also, remember that Stafford has been hurt for a good amount of his young career, only starting in 12 games so far. Even with Stafford missing most of this season so far, they have very comparable stats. I think Mark has the edge only because of his supporting cast, in the end I Think Stafford will have a far more productive career. This Sunday I have to believe Stafford will have the better game only because when Mark is rush he panics, and the pressure he will receive from the lions D-line could cause him issues, a lot of issues. The Jets will be forced to beat the Lions on the ground not in the air.

Q: Kevin Smith and Jahvid Best both had 12 carries last week. Do you expect to see an even timeshare going forward?

A: Both have been injured this season. Best hasn’t been playing 100% since his turf toe injury. Smith played in a couple early games and in pre-season, but he was not fully recovered from knee surgery. Until Jahvid is 100% and learns to follow his blocks, I do see the carries being about even. Best will have more snaps in total however because of his ability to make huge plays in the flats or short dump routes.

Q: What is the key matchup of the game?

A: I listed a few different matchups in my blog previewing the game this Sunday. If I had to pick one to be the biggest, I again, think it will be the O-lines for both teams, keeping Stafford and Sanchize protected long enough to make smart throws or make holes for the backs to break through. The best O-Line performance will win this game on Sunday.

Q: What is your prediction for Sunday?

A: So after analyzing this match up, this is a wonderful matchup for any football fan. This game will come down to the last possession, the Lions winning it by the score of 27 – 23. Enjoy the game, Go Lions!

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