Everything is coming up roses for the Steelers. They have the best record in the AFC, the 2nd best defense in the NFL and have won 2 in a row. They play the Detroit Lions Sunday night in Detroit. There’s no way they could lose this game, right? Not so fast. Let’s look at the matchups.
Lions Offense vs. Steelers Defense
This almost doesn’t seem fair – the Lions have injury issues at almost every position on offense, most of which is QB Matthew Stafford with an ankle issue. The Lions are also on their 3rd tackle as journeyman Brian Mihalik will play at left tackle. Also, the wide receivers are dealing with various injuries. The Steelers defense has to be salivating at this as they are 2nd in the league in sacks and 3rd in the league in points per game. The Steelers dominated the Bengals last week, giving up 14 points, getting 4 sacks and 1 interception. They are firing on all cylinders right now.
Steelers Offense vs. Lions Defense
The Steelers have had a very successful season so far, but also a very controversial one. Every week there seems to be some drama. This week once again it was wide receiver Martavis Bryant. On Instagram he said he was better than teammate JuJu Smith-Schuster and demanded a trade in an interview. This led to Coach Mike Tomlin making him inactive for this game. How will the offense look in his absence? Will JuJu Smith-Schuster play in Bryant’s more? Or will Eli Rogers or Justin Hunter get more snaps? Whoever it is, they should get a lot of attention as cornerback Darius Slay is one of the best in the league, and he’s expected to shadow Antonio Brown. The Steelers offense has underachieved so far this year partly because Martavis Bryant has been a disappointment. If they can get production from the other receivers, the passing game could flourish.
Injuries haven’t affected just the Lions’ offense – former Pro Bowl defensive tackle and Steeler killer Haloti Ngata was placed on injured reserve. This will weaken the run defense and that’s not good news for the Lions, as the Steelers running game has had over 150 yards the last 2 weeks. The Lions defense has 9 interceptions, so the Steelers would be smart to keep it on the ground.
The Steelers usually play well on Sunday nights so hopefully they don’t suffer a let down after 2 intense matchups. The Lions would’ve had a chance if they were healthy, but with injuries at key positions, they won’t be able to keep up. Expect the Steelers pass defense to shut down Stafford and the running game to run it down the Lions throat.
Steelers 33, Lions 17
Lifelong Pittsburgh sports fan here.