The Detroit Lions (2-3) travel to the state of Florida to take on the Miami Dolphins (4-2) this Sunday.
The Lions are coming off their bye week. Before that, they beat the Green Bay Packers 31-23 at home. The Dolphins, meanwhile, are coming off a nice win against the Chicago Bears. They won 31-28 in overtime versus Mitch Trubisky and company.
As for the game this week, both teams will look to continue their winning ways.
The Lions should be able to attack the Miami defense through both the air and on the ground. The Dolphins are one of the worst defenses in the league in terms of yards allowed per game at 25th in the NFL. They give up an average of over 118 yards per game on the ground and almost 280 yards per game through the air.
This bodes well for the Lions as they have a pretty potent offense, averaging 25 points per game so far.
Matthew Stafford should be able to drop back and have time to find his receivers. The Dolphins have only racked up ten sacks through six games so far and that isn’t good for them as Stafford can tear apart any defense when given time. He has also started to heat up and play to his standards after throwing four interceptions in the season opening loss to the New York Jets. Since that Week 1 debacle, Stafford has thrown for nine touchdowns and only one INT.
He also has a talented trio of receivers at his disposal, with Golden Tate, Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones Jr. all having three touchdowns on the season. Tate is leading Detroit with 431 yards and is one of the best in the business at yards after the catch with 232. Second-year pro Golladay isn’t far behind Tate with 428 yards on the season. Jones Jr., while not as high as his teammates, is still having a nice year with 241 yards.
Detroit also could attack the Fins on the ground. Rookie Kerryon Johnson comes into this one averaging only 57.2 yards per contest. But he has 286 yards on only 50 carries for an outstanding 5.7 yards per rush average. I expect Johnson to get a few extra touches in this one, especially with pass-catching back Theo Riddick out with a knee injury, and maybe bust off a long gain or two.
As for the Dolphins, their offensive plan of attack will most likely be on the ground. Starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill is out again with a shoulder injury and Brock Osweiler will start for the second consecutive game. Last week against the Bears, he went 28-44 for 380 yards and three TDs. But he also threw two interceptions and has been average at best throughout his career with a lifetime 35:29 TD-to-INT ratio.
Miami, though, has a two-headed backfield manned by Frank Gore and Kenyan Drake. Gore, who is fourth on the all-time NFL rushing yards list with 14,329 yards, is coming off his best game of the season versus Chicago. He went for 101 yards on 15 carries for a sparkling 6.7 yards per rush. On the year, Gore is leading Miami with 303 yards. His backfield partner, Drake, is having a down year on the ground with only 210 yards but has also caught 21 balls for 145 yards through the air.
Running the ball should bode well for the Fins as the Lions have the 30th ranked run defense in the league. They have given up an average of 145.8 YPG on the ground and 5.3 YPC.
If head coach Adam Gase does decide to have Osweiler air it out though, the Lions should be wary of Albert Wilson. He leads the team with 359 yards and four touchdowns. He is also like Tate and is one of the best in the game at making defenders miss after the catch.
Injuries may also play a deciding factor in the outcome of this game. Besides Riddick being out for the Lions, they also placed cornerback and return specialist Jamal Agnew on the IR with a knee injury. Guard T.J. Lang (concussion) and defensive end Ezekiel Ansah (shoulder) are also questionable heading into this one.
The Dolphins, who are already down Tannehill, may be without their best pass rusher. DE Cameron Wake is questionable with a knee issue heading into this week.
Now time for the prediction. I think the Lions will come out of their bye week ready to roll. Coming off a huge win over NFC North rival Green Bay, where all three area of the game were firing on all cylinders, should get this team excited. Stafford has played leaps and bounds better since Week 1 and I expect that to continue in the Sunshine State.
The Dolphins are coming off an emotional win in overtime against the Bears and are tied for first with the New England Patriots in the AFC East. They are playing solid team football but I believe Osweiler will make a few mistakes they can’t overcome versus the seventh-ranked pass defense of Detroit.
A win would be the first 5-2 start for Miami since 2003 and their first 4-0 home start since 2000. But I think the Lions, especially the offense, comes out ready to play and picks up their first road win of the season.
Lions 27, Dolphins 23.
All stats are courtesy of ESPN.com and Pro-Football-Reference.com.