Five Keys to Victory
5. - Force Tuiasosopo to Use His Arm
Marques is a very good athlete, but he is still in development mode. In college and in the pros, Ive never been impressed with Tuiasosopos mechanics. While he has a decent one, Im not convinced he can carry this team. Unlike Gannon, who can sidearm, and adjust his arm to throwing lanes, Marques has a difficult time of finding lanes to his receivers. With little experience as a starter, if the Lions slow down the run and force Marques to beat them with his arm, the Lions will have a better chance of winning on Sunday.
4. - Catch the Ball
OK, guys, its not funny no more. Professional receivers should be able to at least catch half of the balls thrown to them. Maybe its coaching, maybe there's a bet on who can drop the most passes, whatever it is, it needs to be corrected fast.
3. - Dont Get Spread Out
The Raiders have depth at all their skilled receiving positions. Teyo Johnson, Doug Jolley, Jerry Rice, Tim Brown, Jerry Porter, Charlie Garner How do you limit these guys? With the extremely thin and vulnerable secondary, the Lions cannot turn this into a pick-your-poison game. Tim Brown and Jerry Rice have been around the block a few times. No one knows how to get set up corners better than these two. However, Otis Smith is a crafty veteran and is still in the league because he is still great at getting good position on receivers. The fact the Rice and Browns speed have deteriated like Smiths, the matchup should be fair. Dre Bly is also great at jumping on routes and is a master at positioning. The jockeying for position should be a great side bar match to watch.
2. - Expose the Offensive Line
Inexperience and other problems may seriously hinder this rag tag group on Sunday. Right Guard/Tackle Brad Badger and Langston Walker are both susceptible to being exploited in open field pass protection or in space. I like to refer to them as "phone booth" players, those who play well only in small areas. Center Barret Robbins was the best center in the league not too long ago, but his well documented problems at the Super Bowl make his ability to return to his old form questionable. Barry Sims is a decent left tackle, but left guard Matt Stinchcomb lacks athleticism and is a below average starter. The Lions defensive line is decent, and should be able to at least create a stalemate with this offensive line.
1. Play With Some Spirit!
The Lions team of 2002 were in every game because they refused to give up, and played like they wanted to win every game. This years team needs to develop a lot more motivation, and leadership. Intangibles can play a big factor, Chicago played like they wanted to win. Devastated by injuries, but nonetheless played a 100% every down. Detroit has it in them, develop some momentum early and keep it going through the whole game.