Though the Detroit Lions feature one of the league's top passing attacks, in 2013, the Cleveland Browns aren't that far behind in terms of efficiency.
Despite a long term situation at quarterback that can be described as murky at best, the Browns got steady production out of injured Brian Hoyer and have found halfway decent results from expected odd man out Brandon Weeden. With Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron presenting match up problems, Cleveland has collected a solid eight touchdowns and 1,190 yards through the air.
The Lions, with Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson and Reggie Bush, by comparison, have the exact same amount of passing touchdowns and only 268 more total yards than the Browns. Granted, Johnson did miss the last game which dampened statistics, but the Lions haven't exactly been lighting up the scoreboard this season as much as everyone assumed they would.
In a few other categories, the Browns keep things close as well, collecting a 56.4 completion percentage (compared to the Lions' 63.8 percent) and averaging around 238 yards per game, which is only 54 less per contest than Detroit's margin of 292. Certainly, the play makers Cleveland has found down field can help aid those statistics. At 15th overall in the league, the Browns' passing attack is only eight spots behind the Lions.
Where is the biggest discrepancy, though? Sacks and turnovers. The Lions have only allowed eight sacks (five of those came in last week's game against the Packers) for a total of 66 yards lost and Stafford has managed to protect the ball relatively well, only collecting three interceptions. Cleveland's offense, by comparison, has turned the ball over with six interceptions while allowing a whopping 22 sacks (most in the league) for a grand total of 155 yards lost. That does have a way of stalling an offense.
So, given things are relatively close everywhere else, the sack battle could determine who wins. The Lions failed to pass that test last week, allowing a handful of sacks to change the game in Wisconsin. Against the Browns' tough defense, that cannot happen again. Conversely, it will be just as important for Weeden to get the ball out quick against the Lions' tough defensive line, or he'll put the offense in a bad spot and risk personal injury.
With much else even, expect quarterback sacks to play a large role in who wins Sunday's game. Either the Browns' offensive line protects for once, or the Lions will simply dominate up front and win the field position battle. Given the Lions' struggles last week in protection, it will be important for them to get back on track against a tough defense, too.
Watch the defensive and offensive lines closely, as tough play in the trenches will determine a winner.
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