The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Detroit Lions take the field Sunday to face each other in a game that has become increasingly interesting. The Bucs recent success and the Lions lack of consistency will be on display for all to see. And the NFL’s most intriguing matchup will be on Ford Field between Bucs CB Darrelle Revis and Lions WR Calvin Johnson. So Jeff Risdon, the Lions Featured Columnist on Bleacher Report, Editor at DetroitLionsDraft.com, Senior NFL Writer/Draft Analyst at RealGM.com, and my cousin, answered some questions about Tampa Bay and Detroit. I returned the favor for him and now we have a friendly wager on the line to change our avatar to the opposing website. Here are the questions and answers:
Detroit has been somewhat inconsistent this year with a 6-4 record. Although they’re tied with Chicago for the NFC North lead, what has been the reason for this inconsistency?
Jeff - The Lions are inconsistent even within games, and that breeds overall inconsistency. They just cannot string together several strong possessions on either side of the ball.
Jeff - Prior to this season I would have agreed, but this has been a different Matthew Stafford in 2013. Other than a brief patch against Chicago, the mechanical laziness that marred his career has gone away. Some of that comes from a much better offensive line, which leads the league in sack percentage and often gives him time to survey several options on a play.
Jeff - Tampa Bay has one outstanding player at each level of the defense. Gerald McCoy, Lavonte David and Darrelle Revis are all All-Pro worthy talents that deserve more recognition. Revis has the ability to handle Johnson without a lot of help, and that means the ancillay weapons will have to step up for Detroit.
Jeff – Detroit has invested three of its last four first-round picks on the defensive line, so there is obvious talent in place. Ndamukong Suh is one of the best impact talents in the league, a physical monster. He and Nick Fairley together present significant matchup problems…when they’re both playing well. Fairley is very hit-or-miss, and Suh has cooled off after a real strong start to the season.
Defensive line coach Kris Kocurek is one of the best in the business. He’s a nonstop profanity machine, but he’s also a very effective teacher and technical guru. You can see the fruits of his coaching in Willie Young and Devin Taylor, who is playing well as a fourth-round rookie. Young commits too many penalties–really the whole line does–but he’s gone from a raw seventh round pick to a pretty effective starting left end.
The Lions would love to translate all that talent into more sacks. They rank near the top in creating QB pressures, but they have just 16 sacks. That’s 30th in the league and 6 fewer than the Bucs.
Prediction time! Give me a final score and how we get there.