The Lions enter a season with momentum and expectations for the first time in years, their opponent is in a similar situation as well. The Buccaneers took huge strides last year and if not for the Lions, would have made a return to the playoffs. The Bucs were win number two in the Lions’ four game winning streak that helped fuel the optimism that surrounds the 2011 season.
Both teams have very similar traits, promising young quarterbacks, receivers and running backs and a defense built around an aggressive and talented defensive line. There are many that feel that these two teams are just laying the foundation for the next great NFL rivalry for years to come.
The Lions roll into Tampa with a healthy Matthew Stafford and Jahvid Best to pair up with Calvin Johnson and a host of other weapons. The Lions heavily relied on Maurice Morris to set up the run to take pressure off Drew Stanton when they last played. I expect the Lions do the opposite this week and attack the defense and dictate a high tempo. Look for the Lions to spread the field early and often to attack the holes in the zone which will set Jahvid Best up for draws and screens. By spreading the field horizontally, the Lions can slow down the Tampa pass rush and then they can open up the vertical game and target Calvin Johnson and Titus Young deep.
The Bucs were missing Aqib Talib and Gerald McCoy when these two teams played last year and they added DE’s Adrian Clayborn and Da’Quan Bowers to their promising young line. Talib is one of the better cornerbacks in the league, but he’s still going to have his hands full with Calvin Johnson. The Lions will look to exploit the more advantageous matchup between Nate Burleson and Ronde Barber as well as Brandon Pettigrew over the middle against a small linebacking corps.
Check out the rest of this preview featuring two young, risings NFC squads colliding at Lions Gab