Looking for a challenge to help gage the readiness of the Detroit Lions' offensive line? This weekend, the team takes on the Cincinnati Bengals, who've been sack masters for the last three seasons.
Last week, the Lions got back on track against the Cleveland Browns only allowing one sack. The week before, they had allowed five against the Green Bay Packers, causing some concern about their performance. Was it a one week blip or an indication of some future trouble as games get tougher on the schedule?
This year, powered mostly by the efforts of Geno Atkins, Carlos Dunlap and Wallace Gillberry, the Bengals have already collected 18 sacks. In 2012, the team sacked opposing quarterbacks 51 times, which was the most other than Denver and St. Louis, who collected 52. The Bengals might already be on pace to equal or break that number by the end of this season.
If nothing else, at least the Bengals will be on track to surpass some of their old totals from the past decade. From 2002 until 2011, Cincinnati's highest sack total was 45, which came in 2011. In that period, they had some rough seasons getting to the quarterback, only registering 17 and 22 sacks within that timeframe, which were their low water marks. The Bengals have remade their pass rush over time with solid draft picks and good decisions.
What does this mean for the Lions? Protection will be key on Sunday, of course. Detroit passed their test against Minnesota and Chicago, two teams which excel at rushing the passer. Calvin Johnson's absence played a definite role in the ugly loss to Green Bay, where Matthew Stafford panicked in the pocket and didn't find much separation from the wide receiver spot.
Detroit still has the ninth most efficient offensive line in the NFL, having allowed only 10 sacks and 23 quarterback hits. Going against Cincinnati, they'll have to be just as good considering the type of pressure the Bengals can bring from multiple spots. The Lions will face some solid defensive lines in 2013, but perhaps none as good as Cincinnati's, making Sunday's challenge their biggest yet.
The Bengals bring some very hefty sack numbers into Ford Field. Can Detroit continue to protect Stafford against an elite pass rush? If they do, that could prove to be the biggest key in a victory on Sunday afternoon.
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- Inside the Numbers: Sacks Could Determine Stalemate Between Cleveland Browns’ and Detroit Lions’ Offenses
- Scouting the Opposition: Cincinnati Bengals Continuing Tradition of Tough AFC North Teams
- Detroit Lions’ Inside the Numbers: Both Chicago and Detroit Protect the Quarterback, So What Gives?
- Detroit Lions’ Inside the Numbers: Eight Man Blitz Means Precision Key for Matthew Stafford
- Detroit Lions’ Inside the Numbers: Arizona Cardinals’ Tough Pass Defense Will Test Detroit Recievers
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