Make-Or-Break Game

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Paul Wezner -

While every game is important in the 16-game NFL season, the Lions second game of the season could dictate what will happen the rest of the season.

    After the Lions first game against the Green Bay Packers, Head Coach Marty Mornhinweg had already seen enough. While Charlie Batch’s numbers weren’t terrible (20-39, 276 yards), he missed numerous open receivers and held onto the ball too long, taking way too many sacks. Mornhinweg sent Batch to the bench and elected to start recently acquired backup Ty Detmer.

    Because of the tragedy in New York as well as Washington and suburban Pittsburgh, Week 2 was cancelled. While this is no consolation, Detmer got two weeks to work with the first team offense and was able to get a better feel for his team’s receivers.

    However, there is an obvious problem with the move. Mornhinweg benched Batch after only one game, a poor performance at that. What happens if Detmer performs equally pathetic? Does Mornhinweg go back to Batch? Does he stick with Detmer? Does he decide to go with untested rookie Mike McMahon? While the risk may have been warranted, Mornhinweg now risks losing the team only 2 games into the season if the Quarterback situation turns out poorly.

    The Cleveland Browns are not a powerhouse. In fact, they are probably the weakest squad this Lions team will face this season. There is no question, the Lions need to win this game. If they don’t, they’ll be 0-2 and heading into a 3-game stretch in which they’ll be lucky to win 1 game. If the Lions want any chance at the playoffs, an 0-5 start will virtually eliminate them from contention.

·    Ty Detmer doesn’t need to be magical today; he just needs to be good enough to not screw up. The Browns don’t have a strong secondary, and they’ll be without RDE Courtney Brown. WR Herman Moore probably won’t play, which will put lots of pressure on WR Germane Crowell and TE David Sloan to pick up their production from week 1. WR Larry Foster will take over as the slot receiver, and could become a factor if he can get the football in open space.

·    The Browns Offensive Line isn’t very good, and the Lions front four has to take advantage of it. The group managed only 1 sack in the first week, and they’ll need to do a lot more than that. DT Luther Elliss will start and is now at full strength, which should take some pressure off LDE Robert Porcher. However, look for the Lions to move more Defensive Lineman around today, possibly bringing Porcher in to Defensive Tackle on passing situations, and also possibly using Weakside Linebacker Chris Claiborne as a down pass rusher.

·    The Lions are stronger than the Browns in virtually every aspect of the game, and there should be no reason why the Lions lose this game. The defense is better, the special teams are better, even the Lions dreadful Offensive Line is probably superior to that of the Browns. The Lions will be much improved from the first game, and Detmer’s first start will be a success. LIONS 24, BROWNS 10

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