The Detroit Lions are back home for today’s game as they face-off against the 4-2 Cincinnati Bengals. While the Bengals aren’t division rivals, this game is very significant to the Lions mainly because getting a win not only gives them a 5-2 record but it also allows them to stay on top in the NFC North.
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I expect this to be a very competitive game that could go down to the wire, both teams have very capable offenses who are known to have inconsistent moments. Both teams also have great wide receivers in Calvin Johnson and AJ Green and both teams have good defenses. While both these teams are pretty evenly matched, the Detroit Lions should be able to come out victorious if they follow certain steps.
Offensively it all starts with the Lions run game. Bengals have a very consistent defense and when it comes to their front seven, they are very quick, athletic and discipline. Lions must initiate a consistent running game with running back Reggie Bush. Bengals will expect him to bounce out to the outside so Bush would be smart to stick to quick moves when hitting the holes and accelerate up field. No need to get fancy, just go forward. When it comes the passing game, Lions must be even better. Bengals have a very underrated secondary that doesn’t get enough credit despite being ranked 9th in the NFL in opponent passing yards. Once again, I will look to other receivers besides Calvin Johnson to step up. Tight end Joseph Fauria has shown he can be another red zone target for Stafford but Lions also need other receivers to help them get down the field. So I will be watching wide receivers, Ryan Broyles, Kris Durham along with tight ends Brandon Pettigrew and Tony Scheffler. As far as Stafford, he needs to be prepared to make changes at the line of scrimmage and read the defense because the Bengals will throw some disguises at him. Stafford can’t afford to turn the ball over in this game because Bengals will make you pay for it. Bengals also have a good pass rush, so Stafford should stick to getting the ball out quickly with short and intermediate passes.
Defensively the Lions have a battle on their hands. Cincinnati is a pretty balance team and can hurt the Lions in the running and passing game. The first thing Lions defense needs to do is create pressure. Quarterback Andy Dalton is a good quarterback but he is known to force things at times especially when pressured. I look for the defensive line to create consistent pressure and hopefully they can get Dalton to force a couple passes. Lions linebackers and secondary must be prepared to step up in this game and their first area of concentration should be wide receiver AJ Green. When it comes to passing the ball, AJ Green is Andy Dalton’s favorite target, so the Lions secondary would be smart to take him away and force Dalton to beat you with his other receivers. Lions should look to bracket AJ Green but that means everyone else must be ready to play their part in covering the Bengals other weapons such as tight ends Tyler Eifert and Jermaine Greshman along with wide receiver Mohamed Sanu. There is no doubt that Andy Dalton will throw the ball AJ Green’s way, the question is will the Lions be ready to make a play on the ball when he does.
Lastly the Lions must limit small errors like penalties which can turn into a big problem if they become a consistent problem in this game.
I have the Detroit Lions winning this game but I have no doubt this game will be filled with some big defensive moments and amazing offensive plays. Tune into the Detroit Lions today at 1pm on CBS as they face-off against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Written by LBeasley, Sports Contributor for Radio One Detroit
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