Pittsburgh Steelers (2-2 1-3 ATS) at Detroit Lions (1-3 1-3 ATS) Ford Field Detroit, MI 1 PM EST Sunday October 11, 2009 on CBS
By Jason Green at Predictem.com
Point Spread: Steelers -9.5 / Lions +9.5
In an AFC North game this Sunday afternoon the Detroit Lions host the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Lions finally won a game a couple of weeks back beating the Washington Redskins to snap their 18-game losing streak, but in their last game they fell back to earth getting crushed 48-24 at the hands of the Chicago Bears.
In that game rookie Matt Stafford injured his knee in the 4th quarter and while it does not look like a season-ending injury he may miss this game.
The Steelers were 1-2 and the defending champs were not playing like it, but they won an important game beating the San Diego Chargers 38-28 in their last outing. The Steelers can get back in the AFC North race with a win in this game while the Lions can do the same and get a little, well a lot, of respect if they can beat Pittsburgh at home.
In the Lions loss to the Bears the Lions out-gained the Bears in passing yards (308 to 125), but the reason the Lions lost by 24 points is that they simply could not stop the run (out-gained 151 to 91) and allowed the Bears to average 7.6 yards per carry. Other than that, if you look at the stats, the Lions were solid, as they also had more first downs (25 to 14) and dominated in time of possession (36:30 to 23:30). The Lions were underdogs by 10 points in the game and since they lost by 20 they did not cover the spread. The game was s high scoring one with 68 points scored so the posted total of 43.5 was easily surpassed.
In the Steelers win, which got them back to .500, but they struggled late in the game, yet again, being outscored 28-17 in the second half. Luckily they ran the ball well in the 4th quarter, as the Chargers did not have enough time to make a comeback. The Steelers dominated the game in total yards (497 to 251) and in time of possession (40:20 to 19:40). Speaking of domination let’s talk about the Steelers’ rushing attack, which out-gained the Chargers’ rushing attack a ridiculous 177 yards to 16 yards. The Steelers were favored by 5.5 points so they covered the spread and the posted total of 43.5 points was surpassed with 66 points scored in the game.
As stated before Stafford may miss this game, but even if he plays he will have to wear a brace, which will hurt his mobility. He has had a tough rookie season, but in his last 2 games he has passed for 537 yards with 2 TD and only 1 INT.
The Lions may need the Stafford from the last 2 games, as even though the Steelers’ D is awesome at stopping the run they have been disappointing defending the pass giving up an average of 218.3 passing yards per game. They have to worry, a lot, about Lions’ WR Calvin Johnson (21 rec 323 yds 1 TD), who is turning into one of the best WR’s in the NFL and he is definitely Stafford’s main target.
The Lions have a mediocre rushing offense, ranking 17th in the league, as they are averaging 101.5 rushing yards per game. Lions’ RB Kevin Smith does have 234 yards rushing, but he is only averaging 3.4 yards per rush. Don’t look for him to improve upon those stats facing a Steelers’ rushing defense that is only giving up an average of 61.5 rushing yards per game.
If Stafford can’t play in this game backup Daunte Culpepper will get the start, but even though he has more experience than Stafford the rookie gives the Lions a better chance to win.
With Pittsburgh’s defense not dominating like they have been in the past few years they are lucky that their offense, which ranks 6th in the league (yes 6th!), is picking up the slack.
Ben Roethlisberger (1,193 yds 5 TD 4 INT) has been solid this season leading a Steelers’ offense that is averaging 278.8 passing yards per game.
Big Ben could use some help in the rushing attack, as the Steelers are only averaging 105 rushing yards per game. Starting RB Willie Parker is injured and may be available for this game, but they may be better if backup Rashard Mendenhall gets more carries. In the win over the Chargers Mendenhall had 165 yards rushing and 2 TD. Also, he is averaging 5.8 yards per carry and Parker is only averaging 3.1 yards per carry.
The Lions rank 23rd on defense, which is actually an improvement from last season, and they are having trouble stopping the run or the pass this season.
The Lions secondary, which is giving up an average of 240.3 passing yards per game has their work cut out for them in this game, as they have to have solid coverage on the WR duo of Hines Ward (26 rec 355 yds) and Santonio Holmes (19 rec 284 yds 1 TD), who are both averaging over 13 yards per catch.
Jason’s Pick: The Lions did win a couple of weeks back, but then allowed the Bears to score 48 points last week. Stafford has been solid as of late, but he may miss this game with a knee injury. The Steelers may be back on track and their offense will be too much for the Lions to handle, as they will win this game and cover the spread.