Tennessee Titans at Detroit Lions preview
Daunte Culpepper came out of retirement to become Detroit's third starting quarterback this season. He hasn't fared well, throwing five interceptions with only two touchdowns. His 50.9 passer rating is abysmal.
It's not like he or his predecessors have been without help. Calvin Johnson is a dangerous weapon, who's starting to blossom in his second NFL season. He already has 905 yards and a great 18.9 average with eight TDs. Although he doesn't get the headlines, he's developed into a guy in the same class as Randy Moss, Terrell Owens and Chad Ocho Cinco. He's very big for a receiver, is fast and has good hands. Johnson plays both sides of the field, so both Titans cornerbacks will have their hands full.
Rookie RB Kevin Smith has started the last three games. He's the Lions' leading rusher and has a nice 4.5 average. The second RB is former Bengal Rudi Johnson. I don't know why Smith hasn't started more games ahead of Rudi.
Detroit's offensive stats aren't impressive: 29th in scoring, 28th in yards, 25th in passing and 29th in rushing.
The stats aren't any better for the Lions defense. They're 19th against the pass, 31st in total defense and last in run defense and in scoring defense.
Seven backs have rushed for over 100 yards on Detroit this year. Atlanta's Michael Turner had 220 and the Panthers had two 100-yard rushers in one game, Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams. Tennessee should be able to run the ball against them.
Their primary defense is the Tampa-2, which the Titans are familiar with. The Colts, who play Tennessee twice a year, play a lot of Tampa-2. The Bears, who the Titans played earlier this month, also use the Tampa-2 as their main defense. As you'd expect, they're fast and quick on defense.
Oftentimes, the defense plays adequately. The problem is the rest of the time, where they're awful, giving up a lot of big plays.
Lions' special teams:
There's nothing special about them, either good or bad, except for punt coverage. They've given up two touchdowns already on punt returns.
Expect to see:
The Titans' gameplan should be simple -- get back to basics. Run the ball and stop the run. They'll also want to double up on Calvin Johnson and get a good pass rush on Culpepper.
It looks to be pretty simple for the Lions as well. They have two weapons on offense, Johnson and Smith, and will use them. On defense, they'll crowd the line and stack the box to limit the Titans running game.
If you have to play on a short week, what easier way to do it than to play the worst team in the league? After losing their first game of the year, the Titans have a few things to improve upon and would like to get back on the winning track. It's a good time to get back to basics.
The Lions are 1-18 in their last 19 games. Their last winning season was in 2000. They are 31-92 since 2001, when Matt Millen became their president and CEO. The albatross of Millen is no longer around the franchise's neck, but the damage he did remains and will take a long time to repair.
They have come close in a couple of games this year, so they are capable of beating someone. The Vikings needed a last-minute field goal to win 12-10 and the Bears won narrowly, 27-23. As bad as the Lions have been, no team should overlook them.