Storylines Plentiful As Lions Brace For Jets

Detroit will attempt to win its second consecutive game in battle rife with storylines.

Leave it up to a team from New York to provide all the drama.

The storylines emerging from Sunday's forthcoming game between the Detroit Lions and New York Jets are plentiful, and they keep coming.

Beyond the obvious, the duel between last year's top quarterback picks, Matthew Stafford (No. 1) and Mark Sanchez (No. 6 overall), there is also the matchup between Detroit's Calvin Johnson and the Jets' Darrell Revis, two defenses gaining notoriety each week, and the verbal fuel supplied by New York's loose-lipped coach, Rex Ryan.

In a press conference earlier this week, Ryan didn't believe Detroit's offense could reach its potential against his staunch defense. The Lions are averaging 38 points per tilt at Ford Field this season. The Jets are barely allowing two touchdowns.

"Nope, I don't," Ryan said. "I don't believe that's going to happen. Come out and prove me wrong, but I doubt it."

The game wreaks of a primetime contest between two, winning ball clubs -- rather than the mirrored, 2-5 Lions against the favored, 5-2, playoff-contending Jets.

Ryan's comments sparked a brief, but half-hearted exchange with Lions coach Jim Schwartz, who pointed out in his own briefing that Detroit's defense has a few more sacks than the media darling Jets.

Lions receiver Nate Burleson said he wasn't surprised by the banter, especially coming from Ryan.

"As a coach, you are supposed to say that. I would hope he doesn't want us to score points against him," Burleson said. "They are supposed to stop us. We are just going to continue to do what we do best and that's make plays."

In last weekend's win over Washington, Detroit's offense finally flexed its full-strength muscle after weeks of injury troubles. Featuring a loaded core of skill players, the team attacked the Redskins on both sides of the football, resulting in a dominant performance that has since sent the 'Skins reeling.

The win handed Detroit a bit of traction, with many pondering whether or not they might enjoy their first winning streak since 2007.

The Jets, however, are one of the few teams in the league thought to have the manpower on the offensive line and defensive backfield equipped to answer Detroit's talent.

"They have a great scheme," Lions offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said. "They make a commitment to be great against the run and they have cornerbacks that they feel can match up with any receivers in the league. We like the challenge."

Added Stafford, "They do like to play a lot of man coverages and we usually like it when there is man coverage on Calvin. Obviously, they have a lot of confidence in their guys, and matchups always matter when you are trying to decide where to throw the football. But I like my guy in those situations."

Although the Lions might look to Johnson, who won NFC Offensive player of the week honors for his three-touchdown performance last Sunday, Linehan also has a knack for exploiting aggressive defenses that put stock in individuals in the secondary. Detroit could just as easily turn to its tight ends and running backs, rather than rely on its prominent receiving core.

Regardless of how the game transpires, Burleson was under the impression it would live up to the hype.

"We have confidence no matter who we play," Burleson said. "There isn't a team on the schedule that we're scared of. It's a good feeling going into every week feeling like we have a chance to win."

"If I wasn't playing, this is a game I would for sure be watching. There's going to be a lot of really good matchups."


  • SERIES HISTORY: 12th regular-season meeting. Lions lead series, 6-5. The Lions owned the Jets in the 1990s, winning four straight games, but the Jets have won the last two in the current century, winning in 2006 in the Meadowlands and in the inaugural season at Ford Field in 2002. The only historical game of note was in 1997. With a playoff berth on the line, the Lions beat the Jets 13-10 behind a 184-yard rushing performance by Barry Sanders. The performance pushed him over 2,000 yards for the season. And, in typical Lions' fashion, their great day was marred by tragedy. Linebacker Reggie Brown suffered a career-ending neck injury late in the game.
  • QB Matthew Stafford had an interesting take on his duel with Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez. Both are members of the 2009 draft class, Stafford No. 1 overall and Sanchez No. 5. "I don't think it matters if I threw for 500 yards and he threw for 75; if he wins the game, he's the guy you all (media) are going to say is the better guy. We're going to do everything we can to try and win the game, but it's not me vs. him. It's me vs. their defense and him vs. our defense."
  • The Lions announced on Wednesday that the Jets game was sold out. That's the first time in recent memory the Lions have sold out a non-Thanksgiving Day home game by Wednesday. "It's just a great testament to our fans," club president Tom Lewand said. "We have gotten great support all year. Even last week when we didn't sell out, it was loud and they had a great impact on that game. We have had a great home-field advantage."
  • BY THE NUMBERS: 12 -- Sacks allowed by the Lions in 304 pass attempts; the 3.80 percentage is fourth in the NFL.
  • 17 -- Takeaways by the Lions' defense, tied for fifth in the NFL. They have eight interceptions and nine fumble recoveries.
  • 1999 -- The last time before this week that a Lions receiver won NFC player of the week honors (Germane Crowell).
  • QB Shaun Hill, out since breaking a bone in his left forearm against the Giants, returned to practice Thursday, but coach Jim Schwartz doesn't think he'll be ready to even be the emergency quarterback this week. "It's probably too early for that," he said.
  • DT Ndamukong Suh was named NFL Rookie of the Month for October. His 6.5 sacks leads all rookies. He also had an interception and returned a fumble for a touchdown.
  • KR Stefan Logan was named NFC Special Teams Player of the Month.
  • RB Kevin Smith did not practice on Thursday and did practice Friday, though the Lions claim it was just a routine maintenance day. He is expected to play Sunday.
  • OLB Ashlee Palmer appears likely to start again this week. He replaced Zack Follett (neck) last week and continues to work with the first defense ahead of Bobby Carpenter.
  • LB and special teams captain Isaiah Ekejiuba (knee) wants badly to be able to play against the Jets, who feature legendary special teams coach Mike Westhoff and the AFC kick return leader Brad Smith. "The way we struggled last week was uncharacteristic of how we've played (on coverage)," Ekejiuba said. "I want to come back and help our coverage team. But I am not going to put myself in jeopardy. If I don't think I am ready, I won't go."
  • S Amari Spievey is expected to start in place of C.C. Brown (knee) on Sunday. Brown has not practiced all week.

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