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Lions vs Raiders Preview

The playoff hunt is in full swing heading into Week 15 with the Lions holding the 6th seed just ahead of the self destructing Bears and Cowboys.  Ironically, it seems that the 6th seed is destined to go to the team that self destructs least, rather than the team that plays the best over the next three games.

Speaking of self destructing, the Raiders are in full blown panic mode.  The Lions have been dealing with injuries of late, but the Raiders have been decimated by them.  Jacoby Ford, Denarius Moore, Darren McFadden, Taiwan Jones and Louis Murphy have all missed several games and they are the only explosive players the Raiders have on offense.  The Raiders surrendered their division lead after two embarrassing losses the last two weeks, while the Lions just put a few embarrassing losses behind them last week.  This game pits two of the most undisciplined, hot and cold teams against one another in a battle of desperation.  It will be a very interesting Sunday afternoon to say the least.


The Raiders defense is very similar to the Lions as they are built around a talented and deep defensive line.  They are followed by an underrated linebacking corps and a better than expected secondary.  Like the Lions, the Raiders’ defensive line generates a lot of pressure, but they are susceptible to the run.  The Raiders do have some talent at linebacker, but they are not nearly as strong a group as the Lions, and they can be exploited.  In addition, the secondary has had it’s fair share of struggles due to injuries and inconsistency.

The Lions are going to get Kevin Smith back for this game, which means they should be far more balanced on offense than in weeks past.  They tend to play less shotgun and more formations where Stafford is under center which is far more effective to run the ball from.  Smith, if he can make it through the whole game, gives the Lions a much needed equalizer against the defense.  They have faced defenses that have stacked up coverage on Calvin Johnson and have done a poor job adjusting to it.

The Raiders’ defensive tackles are a strong group that excel at collapsing the pocket, sounds familiar, and that gives me cause for concern if the Lions get too one dimensional.  A quarterback’s worst enemy is pressure up the middle and if the Raiders can get to Stafford early, he will get rattled and start watching the pass rush instead of keeping his eyes downfield.

One good thing about this trip to the Black Hole is the indigenous wild life that attends Raiders games have not provided the same home field advantage as in the past.  It turns out over a decade of losing creates quite a bit of apathy amongst the fan base…who knew?


Carson Palmer is a very difficult player to get a read on this season.  There have been games where he looked like he was on the verge of regaining his Pro Bowl form and there have been other games where he has looked like Jamarcus Russell in disguise.  The key for the Lions doesn’t lie with Palmer, it revolves around Michael Bush.

The Raiders can run the ball with the best of them, but the last few games they have been stuck in neutral.  They dug themselves a pair of 34-0 holes the last two weeks which will depress your rushing output, but the Lions can’t afford to overlook how dangerous Bush is.  He is a big back with speed in the mold of Michael Turner and Frank Gore who both gashed the Lions earlier this season.

The Raiders use a lot of play action when the running game is clicking and that really takes advantage of an aggressive defense like the Lions.  The best course of action for the Lions is to contain Bush as much as possible and clamp down on the underneath passing game.  The Lions shouldn’t be too concerned with getting beaten deep as all the Raiders’ game breakers are not expected to play or be at full strength if they do play.

This week marks the return of Ndamukong Suh and Chris Houston, two huge cogs in the Lions underrated pass defense.  They should give a boost to a unit that has had to rely on street free agents and wide receivers to get through the last three games.

Wild Card:

Again, the wild card is Scott Linehan’s game plan.  If the Lions are balanced and run effectively, they can dispatch the Raiders with ease.  However, if the Lions get pass happy and continue to call plays trying to force the ball downfield, Stafford will have to hold the ball longer which gives the Raiders’ defensive front more time to lay some hits on him.

The Lions offense has been horrific this year when they get one dimensional, the defense can’t force six turnovers every week to keep them afloat.


The Raiders are a shell of their early season form, just like the Lions.  However, the Lions are getting key pieces of the team back on the field and have had enough wake up calls that they should be on the verge of getting their act together, hopefully for good this time.  This game scares me, but I have to go with the Lions.  Kevin Smith gives the offense the second dimension they have lacked all year and he should be the difference this week.

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