The Detroit Lions return to Ford Field after a two week absence and remain in first place, which is exactly how they exited Detroit for their two week road test. Survival is the name of the NFL, and the Lions have managed to set up an important contest with the Cincinnati Bengals by pushing through.
It's not every day both the Lions and Bengals have been in first place and appear to be quality, evenly matched teams on paper, but that's the circumstances of this visit. As a result, the margin of error is slim for either team. What will determine victory this Sunday? Here's five clues as Detroit tries to sweep the season series against the state of Ohio.
1. A.J. Green Against Calvin Johnson. In a match up of two elite talents in the NFL that are good friends, Green and Johnson, who will light up the scoreboard? Johnson seems to be feeling better after last week's tough start against Cleveland, and if he's healthier, he could enjoy a big day. Green, meanwhile has only gone over 100 yards once this season, and could be primed for a big performance against a Lions' secondary which has had its problems at times. Whoever wins this matchup could give their team the best chance to win, given their overall impact on the game. Should Detroit keep Green under 100 yards, they will win the game.
2. Sack Master Bengals. Cincinnati gets the quarterback as good as anyone the Lions have played this season. Can the offensive line protect Matthew Stafford and give him time to throw? Last week, against a Cleveland team that rushed the passer well, the Lions only surrendered one sack, getting back to what made them successful. Now comes the major challenge of Geno Atkins, Carlos Dunlap, Michael Johnson and company. Giving Stafford time to throw against an elite defensive line will be important on Sunday. If he has time, he can make good decisions and move the offense well against a tough secondary. If not, it could be a long day.
3. Detroit's Start. Last week, the Lions had a miserable beginning to the game, making mistakes all over the place en-route to falling behind 17-7 at halftime. After the period, the Lions made fantastic adjustments, showed hunger and won. Again, though, the Lions looked clueless out of the gate and it almost cost them. This week, another poor start cannot happen against the Bengals, who have the firepower and fortitude to put Detroit away should they struggle again. The Lions must try to score first and play as aggressive in the first half as they have in the second. Doing so will put them in much better shape to win.
4. The Running Games. The Lions have Reggie Bush, Joique Bell and to a lesser extent, Mikel Leshoure. The Bengals have BenJarvus Green-Ellis and superstar rookie Giovani Bernard. The contributions from each ground game will help determine a winner on Sunday. Whomever between Bush and Bernard can help supplement the efforts of Green and Johnson will help their team win. Bush was phenomenal last week, and both Bernard and Green-Ellis have been in weeks past. It's a big day for the ground games to help balance the offense.
5. Field Goal Kicking. In a dome, this statistic might be rendered useless, but the Bengals' Mike Nugent has missed a few field goals this year, including one from long distance. David Akers, meanwhile, has steadily improved since his difficulties against the Arizona Cardinals. In a game between two similarly matched teams, the game could come down to field goal kicking. The Lions can trust Akers, but the 8-10 Nugent might be called upon to nail a long kick. Can he get the job done in the clutch?
You need to satisfy your competitive drive, so why not beat our experts in fantasy football. At FightClub, our official Fantasy Football partner, you can change you team weekly and win cash. Get a free $5 credit when you sign up and try them out. And each week, Sports Media 101 will sweeten the pot and award the player with top points an extra $25. Match-up and show them how good you are. Can you handle FightClub?
Your man cave is your home field advantage for every game. When the game is on the line, you should be able to look around and be reminded of the great moments you've watched unfold in that very room! MJR Sports Integrity offers a wide range or team and player-specific memorabilia that can do just that and take your game day room to the next level. Find your inspiration at MJR Sports Integrity and will your team to victory!
- The Three Biggest Things: Questioning the Cincinatti Bengals with Mickey Mentzer of Cincy Jungle
- Minnesota Vikings Vs. Detroit Lions Preview, Five Things to Watch During Game One
- Detroit Lions Vs. Buffalo Bills, Five Things to Watch in Preseason Game Four
- Chicago Bears Vs. Detroit Lions: Five Things to Watch During Game Four, with First Place on the Line
- Detroit Lions Vs. Cleveland Browns: Five Things to Watch During Game Six
Short URL: http://sport-ne.ws/12re