Know Thy Enemy: Detroit Lions

What you need to know about the Detroit Lions can be summed up in two words: Matthew Stafford. The future of the franchise rides on last April’s #1 overall draft pick. Unfortunately, a knee injury suffered last week probably means grizzled veteran Daunte Culpepper will start this Sunday. Which gives young Matthew more time to play with his two little friends there. How sad is it that some rookie who’s won a single NFL game and wears the same sunglasses I wore when I was 10 hangs out with perky young coeds while our two time Super Bowl winning quarterback is left patrolling hotel lobbies for MILFs in cowboy hats?

Despite going defeated last season, the tools on hand as new coach Jim Schwartz takes over really aren’t bad. WR Calvin Johnson is one of the best at his position. He also has the coolest nickname ever, “Megatron.” In the backfield, RB Kevin Smith is coming off a good rookie season. He’s a dual threat at both catching and running with the ball. It seems like the better game he has, the more the offense clicks as a whole. Operating said offense will be Culpepper, who came into this season 30 pounds lighter (!) in a serious attempt to recapture some of his past glory. That will be hard behind a porous offensive line which allowed the second-most sacks in the league last year.

For the Pittsburgh Steelers, the only notable injury continues to be Willie Parker‘s turf toe. He seems to be patient regarding a timetable for his return, which is interesting given his contractual status. The banishing of Redzone Redman to the practice squad seems to indicate the Steelers think he’s close although all reports are Rashard Mendenhall will start again this week. I have to admit, the one-two punch of Mendenhall and Mewelde Moore looked fantastic against the Chargers. I’d expect more of the same against Detroit.

The Lions, you see, are not good defensively. Let’s start with the simple fact that only one other team in NFL HISTORY allowed more points in a season than last year’s Lions. That’s why they went out and found a bunch of new starters this off-season. Super-sized DT Grady Jackson, although he is on the downside of his career, and former Seapigeons star Julian Peterson are new to the mix. Unfortunately, the team is still dead last in points given up and third from the bottom in yards. Old friend Larry Foote is the team’s current leading tackler. Even though I think the Steelers do miss him this year, especially in the run game as Lawrence Timmons just isn’t as stout against the rush, Foote’s cry-babying about the Steelers “screwing” him by not releasing him before the draft is about as logical as your mom bringing up the time you stuck a spork in her foot when you were six because she’s mad at you. Still, these imaginary wrongs will have him fired up to play well against his former team.

For the Steelers, there have been rumors that Troy Polamalu wants back in this week. That’d be monumentally stupid to let him play in a game which, with all due respect to the Lions, the Steelers should be able to win playing their second team defense. Face Me Ike Taylor will have his hands full with Megatron but he’s covered T.O., Ocho Cinco, and Randy Moss so this is nothing new to him. The good news is the Lions don’t have the TE/slot receiving threats to exploit what has been the gaping hole in the Steelers D this season.

Sorry Lions fans, but this franchise has some work to do before they are on par with a playoff caliber team like the Steelers. The game sold out, after not selling out their previous home game, which means to expect a sea of Black and Gold as Steeler Nation descends upon Ford Field. The Lions will be good but now is not their time. In words familiar to any follower of Pittsburgh baseball; wait ’til next year.

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