So last night Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers put on an awesome offensive show in opening the season against the New Orleans Saints. I will go so far as to say that the Packers, the reigning Super Bowl Champs, remain the team to beat this season...as long as Rodgers is standing...which is sort of a problem for the Lions and the rest of the NFC North...so....note to Ndamukong Suh...ahem....yeah....that guy...get him next.
The Leos open this season against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. A team that features a big, talented, mobile and creative quarterback in Josh Freeman. He is one of the big up and comers in the league and the team he leads is both the youngest and one of the more talented squads out there.
There were real honest to goodness reasons why there was genuine debate two years ago about who the Lions should pick with second overall selection, Ndamukong Suh or Gerald McCoy. McCoy was supposedly built better for rushing the passer. His game was speed and technique while Suh was more power and...sheer destructive force...
Suh was the NFL's Defensive Rookie of the Year last season and led all defensive tackles with 10 sacks...so maybe there were some people who were mistaken in their arguments....but that doesn't by any means make McCoy a slouch. The guy can bring it and he is part of a young and disruptive defensive line.
So let me break this down as simply as I can for you...
TB Offense vs Det Defense
Truly this is a question of "Can the much vaunted Detroit defensive line stop the run?" This has been an issue in the past and also during the 4-0 preseason. Laguerette Blount is a workhorse running back who may not always be able to take it to the house, he will churn out a lot of yards 4 and 6 at a time.
It is paramount that the the linebacking corps, which is 2/3 new to Detroit, fill the proper holes and maintiain their assignments or else it'll be a long day for the Lions. It's all well and good to have an awesome pass rush...but if they other team never has to pass...it's all for naught.
Advantage: Tampa Bay
Det Offense vs TB Defense
Here is where I think the Lions have a distinct advantage. Because their running game proved to be so unstoppable in the preseason? Heck no...because of Calvin Johnson. Johnson rang up 3 TD's and 150+ receiving yards last year with Drew Stanton throwing him the ball. This year Stafford will be able to air it out a lot more and the TB secondary doesn't appear to have improved greatly since last year. Ronde Barber is another year older, which I think makes him 106 and the Bucs guy on the other side might be younger, but he hasn't proven much either.
I like Stafford to Johnson a lot for at least a touchdown, probably two.