I think it's safe to say this is most, if not all, Lions fans right now;
We got a lot of things off our back last Sunday, much like a modern-day Atlas shrugging off the weight of the sky during Heracles' trip to the Garden of the Hesperides. This week, there's nothing to hold us back as we welcome the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to the cauldron of sound that is Ford Field. Here's the four things I will be looking at in tomorrow's game.
Izien vs ARSB: We start off by looking at our star running back, if one believes NFL Network...
50.6% of the Sun God's targets have come when he is lined up in the slot, which he lines up in on 55% of his snaps (351/637). Of the 17 WRs to have been targeted more than 50 targets in the slot, Amon-Ra has the 3rd-best receiving grade (92.3) and drop grade (90.6), 3rd-best catch rate (76.3%), 4th-best yards per route run (2.32), the lowest drop rate (1.4%), and has gained the 2nd-most first downs (43).
Facing him will be Christian Izien, who you might remember as the slot hybrid UDFA for the Bucs in this most recent class who became the fourth-ever undrafted player to make interceptions in each of their first two games in the pros. He joined this club with Brenard Wilson (1979), Ray Isom (1987) and Robert Lester (2013). However, since then he has fallen off a tad, as those have been his only two interceptions this season. He has posted a 67.6 coverage grade this season, which is still the best mark of any of Tampa's CBs. However, when compared to the other 13 corners to have played more than 350 coverage snaps in the slot, he has middling stats averaging around 8th in this group (which includes our own Brian Branch). This should be an easy time for St. Brown to burn Izien.
Goedeke vs Hutch: Whoever goes up against Wirfs is probably going to get erased, so it doesn't make sense to line Hutch up over him. Luckily for us, Hutch lines up over the RT on just under 76% of his snaps (781/1030) so he's likely going to be facing former Chip Luke Goedeke on most of his snaps, which is advantage Hutch.
Goedeke has the 10th-best pass-blocking grade from PFF of the 20 tackles to have played more than 650 pass-blocking snaps on the season with 72.2. However, he has also given up the joint 7th-most pressures with 42, is tied for 8th-most sacks allowed on the season with 6, and has the joint 10th-best pass-blocking efficiency in the group with 96.5%. Conversely, of the 10 edges to have played more than 525 pass-rushing snaps, Hutch has the 4th-best grade with 91.5, the most pressures with 110, and the 3rd-best pass-rush win rate with 21.9%.
While Luke might be looking forward to a return to Michigan, this is Aidan's country and he'll send any trespassers into the spin cycle.
Barrett vs Sewell: Likewise, Barrett is the Bucs' best pass-rusher with an 84.0 pass-rush grade, 54 pressures (5 sacks) and a 15.2% pass-rush win rate. He lines up over the RT on 57% of his plays (398/695) which means he is this week's sacrifice to our Polynesian god. Of the aforementioned group of 20 tackles, Sewell has the joint 6th-best pass-blocking grade with 78.1, has allowed the least amount of pressures with 22, the joint-least sacks with 1, and has the best pass-blocking efficiency with 98.3%. Grade-wise, it might appear to be advantage Shaq, but I think it will be Sewell who'll be dunking on the turf on Sunday night.
The safeties: You know why, I say it every week. Sort your third-and-long defence, Glenn. End of.
Hot Take: I'm going as spicy as a California Reaper here: no receiver tops 80 yards in this game.
Score Prediction: Just like last week, this has the potential to be a shoot-out. I'm going to chug the Kool-Aid though, and say our Lions pull out a one-score win by capitalising on any mistakes the Bucs make and converting more drives into touchdowns.
Detroit Lions 31, Tampa Bay Bucs 23
How do you see the game going? Will the Lions reach their first Conference Championship game since 1991, or will the Bucs fire some cannonballs into our voyage through the playoffs?
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