As the Detroit Lions get set to take on the Cleveland Browns this Sunday, they must remember one tiny detail about this match up: Both teams are 3-2. However, the Browns are riding a three game winning streak thanks to fill-in quarterback Brian Hoyer.
Oh, yes, about that. The Browns will be playing without Hoyer for the rest of the season. Well, it looks like Detroit shouldn’t have a problem beating Brandon Weeden, right?
Wrong — sort of.
Detroit may or may not be without All Pro wide receiver Calvin Johnson Sunday, who has again been limited in practice due to a knee injury. Johnson did not play last week and the offense sputtered against a Green Bay Packers defense that has given up its fair share of yardage this year.
Cleveland boasts one of the top young cornerbacks in the game, Joe Haden, who will have the task of covering Johnson if he indeed plays. Quarterback Matthew Stafford can’t overlook the talent of Haden when looking Johnson’s way.
The Browns have also gotten great production out of second-year pro wideout Josh Gordon, who has really come into his own the past couple of weeks after serving a suspension. Detroit’s defense must stay on top of that man if they wish to shut Cleveland’s offense down. Weeden and Gordon have enjoyed a great deal of chemistry dating back to last year as they were both rookies.
For this game to go the Lions’ way, they have to first establish some pressure up front. If their defensive line doesn’t get to Weeden — OK, fine, I can’t finish that sentence. Weeden should be good for a couple of picks regardless, but Detroit can’t take these guys lightly.
Offensively, Reggie Bush will be the key. If he can get into a rhythm, it’ll take some pressure off Stafford and Johnson and open things up a bit more. If Bush can penetrate and get himself through the line of scrimmage a few times and into the open field, the Lions will be much better off for it.
Overall, this game kind of feels like a trap game for Detroit. “It’s just Cleveland” is no longer a relevant phrase as they are exactly even with the Lions at 3-2. We all remember that a team is only as good as its record, right?