Seems like we just did this a couple weeks ago, but certainly a lot has happened for both teams since our last meeting. Once again, I hooked up with Sean from pride of Detroit for a Q/A session on the upcoming game. Sean, thanks for your time sir. Oh, and check out their Q/A post here.
1- Ndamukong Suh has made plenty of headlines lately... Once for having a meeting between Commissioner Goodell to discuss appropriate levels of aggressiveness, and another time for being voted the dirtiest player in the NFL by 111 of his peers. Suh was also ranked the 4th most overrated player in the NFL in that same Poll. From just a statistical standpoint, Suh's production has dropped off a bit from last season (66 tackles/ 10.5 sacks in 2010, and 24 tackles/3 sacks through 8 games in 2011). Is Suh the wrecking ball that he seemed to be last season, or is there a chance that offenses are figuring out ways to neutralize him?
Sean: I do think Suh has been slowed down a bit by opposing offenses now that there is more tape on him. Last year, he took the NFL by storm and couldn't be stopped by seemingly anybody. This year, he hasn't been quite as good, but then again, he hasn't needed to be. The depth on the defensive line is very good, and now that the Lions actually have a competent secondary, eliminating as many potential passes as possible isn't at a premium. Of course, the hope is Suh will get back to his rookie year ways in the second half of the season, and even Suh himself has said that this week
2- Last time around, you mentioned the Lions running game as somewhat of a concern. Shortly after our Q/A, Jahvid Best ripped off 163 yards and a TD against us. Of course, Best is not expected to play this Sunday due to another concussion a couple weeks ago, but where does this leave the Lions in the running game against a seemingly resurgent Chicago Bears defense?
Sean: It has become clear that the game against the Bears was a fluke in terms of the run game. The Lions are not a good running team, and like you said, Best will probably not play on Sunday. This means Maurice Morris will likely get the start again. In recent weeks he has run for 50 and 58 yards, so don't expect him to do a ton of damage unless the perfect storm of mistakes happens on the same play again like Best's 88-yard touchdown run. The Lions will have to pass the ball to win, which is a concern given it is an outdoor game in Chicago in November.
3- Detroit ranks 3rd in the NFL in points per game (29), right behind Green Bay and New Orleans. They also rank 6th in the league in points allowed (18.4) per game. Coming out of the Bye week, do you see the Lions legitimately having a shot at making a deep run into the playoffs?
Sean: I could certainly see it. The Lions have a great chance to be one of the wild-card teams, even with a tough schedule in the second half of the season. At this point it looks like they would be matched up with the Saints or Giants if they do make the playoffs, and I think a win in the wild-card round is a definite possibility. Is getting past San Francisco or Green Bay realistic at this point? Not really, but at this point I think Lions fans will be happy with simply making the playoffs.
4- Heading into this game, the Bears are 5-3 and the Lions are 6-2. Looking at the final eight weeks of the season, Bears opponents have a 34-32 record (51.5%), and Lions opponents have a 40-27 record (59.7%). What needs to happen to help the Lions make up for that scheduling disadvantage they have against the Bears?
Sean: There's no doubt the Lions' schedule is quite tough going forward. In addition to Sunday's game, the Lions have two games against the Packers, a game against the Saints and games against the Chargers and Raiders still to come. While that could present problems going forward in terms of where they stand in the playoff picture, the important thing right now is to pick up a win on Sunday and take the head-to-head tiebreaker from the Bears. Who knows if it will come into play at the end of the year, but having that tiebreaker would essentially give them an extra game lead over the Bears and give them a nice cushion in the standings.
5- Which of the following rappers/emcees would most-accurately reflect who the Lions are as a team, and why? Ice Cube, Aesop Rock, Jay-Z, Andre 3000, or Method Man?
Sean: I'm going to with a rapper not on that list: Eminem. This is a homer pick in a way since Eminem is from Detroit, but the song "Not Afraid" is a good fit for this Lions team. Despite the players on this team not experiencing much success before this year, and despite them entering uncharted territory with a 6-2 record, this team doesn't seem afraid of anybody. They have a certain swagger to them, and I don't see the Lions backing down from anybody, whether it's the Bears in Chicago or the Packers on Thanksgiving. They were once a great franchise, just as Eminem was once one of the best rappers. Both experienced a down time (obviously the Lions' was much longer), and now Eminem is back on top and the Lions are looking to get back on top as well.
Thanks again, Sean!