This game is a scary game for Detroit Lions fans. Detroit is traditionally bad after the bye week, and lately they have been victims of themselves in the second half of the season. Add to that the Lions have not beat an AFC team at home since 2011. Each game was a close loss and that has to worry fans as the team has kept all of their games, outside of the Giants game, close. Still though, the return of Calvin Johnson has to be the big news here.
- Detroit Lions Offensive Line vs. Miami Dolphins Defensive Line – The Dolphins defense as a whole has 25 sacks on the season. The Detroit offensive line has allowed 24 sacks this season. While LaAdrian Waddle is expected to start against the Dolphins, the line as a whole played poorly. Sadly, if they allow less than three sacks, it would be considered a successful game for them as a unit. Slowing down the likes of Cameron Wake, who has 6.5 sacks on the season, and Oliver Vernon, who has 4.5 sacks himself will prove to be a very tough task. Edge Dolphins
- Detroit Lions Tight Ends vs. Miami Dolphins Linebackers – Currently, the Detroit Lions are working on getting healthy at the tight end position. Kellen Davis is still on the roster and today he was taking first team repetitions. That does not bode well for the health of the rest of Detroit’s tight ends. I expect that no more than two of the Lions injured tight ends will be active, likely only one of them though. Yesterday, Joseph Fauria was the only one to participate in practice, even though he was limited. Today, all three of them, Fauria, Brandon Pettigrew and Eric Ebron all practiced. Who suits up on Sunday remains a mystery, and given how ineffective Davis was against the Falcons, I expect this to be an easy match up for the Dolphin linebackers to handle. Edge Dolphins
- Detroit Lions Wide Receivers vs. Miami Dolphins Secondary – The Dolphins have a pretty solid defensive backfield. With corners like Cortland Finnegan and Brent Grimes, who has 4 picks on the season already, the Dolphins are equipped to slow down the Detroit receivers. The Dolphins pass defense is not limited to their solid corners though. They feature safeties Louis Delmas and Reshad Jones. While the Lions are familiar with Delmas from his days in Detroit, they still have to account for him. For Detroit though, this could be a big week for the offense to prove it has what is needed for the Lions to contend in the playoffs. They have been getting great production from Golden Tate and he is now on the same page as Matthew Stafford. Corey Fuller and Theo Riddick have stepped up big in the absence of star receiver Calvin Johnson. If Johnson was expected to be out this week, I would give the edge to the Dolphins here. Fortunately for the Detroit Lions, Johnson is going to play. Johnson stated that he is not yet 100 percent but that he is well rested and expects to get to 1000 yards this season which can only happen if he tears it up in the second half of the season. Reggie Bush is also expected to return. Based on the return of Johnson and Bush, and the emergence of Tate and Fuller Edge Lions
- Detroit Lions Running Backs vs. Miami Dolphins Run Defense – The Detroit Lions run game has struggled all season. I do not see any reason to predict a change until they prove they can get it going. While the Lions do have a healthy Bush, Joique Bell, and Theo Riddick, the Detroit Lions offensive line has not opened up holes for them. If the Lions have any reason to be optimistic this week, its that the Dolphins have allowed 4 one hundred yard rushing efforts in 8 games. In two of those games, they allowed over 170 yards. The Jacksonville Jaguars were one of those teams, gaining 174 behind a good performance from Denard Robinson. Bush has to be confident in that his game is similar to that of Robinson’s. Regardless, the Dolphins have proven more than the Lions here. Edge Dolphins
- Detroit Lions Quarterbacks vs. Miami Dolphins Pass Defense – Matthew Stafford has definitely had a down year this year. His first half of this season has shown a decrease in touchdown passes and an increase in interceptions versus the same time frame last season. Miami’s pass defense is very good, as they are near the top of the NFL and their corners are very productive. Still, Stafford will have a healthy Tate, Johnson, Bush, and possibly one of his three tight ends to throw to. Add to that Riddick’s production lately and Fuller’s reliability and Stafford should have plenty of weapons to throw to. The pressure from Miami’s defense could be a game changer though. Edge Lions
- Detroit Lions Defensive Line vs. Miami Dolphins Offensive Line – Detroit’s defensive line has been dynamite lately. They did have a setback in London as defensive tackle Nick Fairley, having arguably his best season this year, suffered a serious knee injury. While Caraun Reid played well in his absence two weeks ago and CJ Mosely was slated to start during the preseason, Fairley will definitely be missed. Miami’s offensive line has been completely overhauled since the hazing scandal last season. Mike Pouncey is still there, but the Dolphins added Branden Albert, JAson Fox, and Darren Colledge to the mix. With how dominant the Lions defensive line has been all season though, it is hard to not see them affecting this football game. Edge Lions
- Detroit Lions Linebackers vs. Miami Dolphins Tight Ends – The Dolphins biggest receiving threat from the tight end position is Charles Clay. He has netted himself 270 yards and 2 touchdowns so far this season which is a good start for a tight end. Detroit’s linebackers have slowed down opposing tight ends but not completely shut them down. DeAndre Levy ans Tahir Whitehead are up to the task of shutting down any tight end they face, and Clay is likely going to be a non-factor. Add to that the Lions will be getting second round pick Kyle Van Noy back from injury. While he will not make much of an impact for a while, he may be used in blitz situations which can only benefit the defense. Edge Lions
- Detroit Lions Secondary vs. Miami Dolphins Wide Receivers – The Detroit secondary has excelled beyond all expectations so far this season. Ranked near the bottom of the NFL last year, they are near the top this season. They could have been ranked number one if not for poor showings against New Orleans and Buffalo. Still, to hold Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers down and get wins against both offenses is a major accomplishment. Miami’s receivers are in no way elite, but they are quality. Mike Wallace is their big play receiver and Brian Hartline is a good possession receiver. I expect Hartline to do the most damage as Detroit has limited big plays and shut down good receivers already this season. Edge Lions
- Detroit Lions Run Defense vs. Miami Dolphins Running Backs – Detroit has a top five run defense. They have allowed an average of 77 rush yards per game, and lately most of those yards have come in the first few drives. Only one team has rushed for more than 100 yards against the Lions. Miami lost Knowshown Moreno for the season and will be sending out Daniel Thomas and a beat up Lamar Miller. Edge Lions
- Detroit Lions Pass Defense vs. Miami Dolphins Quarterbacks – Detroit’s pass defense has been pretty stellar this season. They have struggled at times lately, but when they needed to come up big, they have. They shut down quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers, Eli Manning, and Matt Ryan. They have allowed other quarterbacks like Kyle Orton and Drew Brees to throw for big yards. Still though with most teams staying around 200 yards passing against Detroit, the defense has definitely done its part. If the Lions can shut down Julio Jones, Roddy White, and Jordy Nelson, they can definitely shut down Mike Wallace and Brian Hartline. While Ryan Tannehill has played well so far this season, he is still a young quarterback who can be deceived by a skilled defensive coordinator and veteran defensive backs like Detroit has. Edge Lions
- Jeremy Ross has been quiet all season. He’s a quality return man but he is not having any breakout returns. Miami will be relying on rookie return man Jarvis Landry and I do not see any reason for them to be concerned. Detroit’s kicking game has struggled all season but Matt Prater kicking the game winner two weeks ago likely boosts his confidence to levels that the team needs him to have. The Dolphins wish they still had Jay Feely which means their kicker is likely in no better shape than Detroit’s Edge None
Lions 7 Dolphins 3
Detroit has overcome so much this season and the emotions have to be high for this team. I worry that they may be facing a trap game situation given that they face a hot Dolphins team right before playing against two of the best teams in the NFL in Arizona and New England the next two weeks. They could look ahead to Arizona and overlook a good Dolphins team. Jim Caldwell does not seem to be the type of coach to allow that in his players though, so I expect Detroit to play the way they should this week.
Detroit Lions 24 Miami Dolphins 20