When the Washington Redskins embarked on this stretch of three "easy" games, the one that was supposed to carry them to 7-1 at midseason, I wasn't buying it. My thinking was that in the three games there would be a loss, a close win, and a blowout win.
We got the loss against the Rams and the close win against the Browns. Is there a Motown blowout in the offing as the Redskins visit the Lions?
A simple look at the statistics would lead one to believe that a blowout win for the Skins is a distinct possibility. The Redskins are a top-ten defense and the Lions are bottom feeders on offense. Washington is third in the league in rushing offense, averaging 158 yards a game while Detroit is 31st in rush defense, allowing over 167 yards per game. And teams aren't running against the Lions because they can't throw—they are 31st in pass defense and dead last in total defense.
There is one number comparison to look at, however, that may well determine whether or not the Redskins can put this one away early. The Lions have been awful starters. In six games, they have been outscored 54-0 in the first quarter. Most of that came from their first game, when they trailed Atlanta 21-0 at the end of one and their last game, when the Texans went up 14-0. Still, every team they have played has scored in the first quarter and the Lions have yet to dent the scoreboard in the opening stanza.
The Redskins, however, aren't exactly blazing out of the gates either. They have been doubled up in the first quarter, scoring 17 points and giving up 34. Other than the one-play drive after Steven Jackson of the Rams fumbled at the three, the Redskins haven't posted a first-quarter point since the opening drive of the Arizona game on September 22.
Against the Rams and the Browns, the Redskins played right into the hands of the underdogs. They let the other, inferior team hang around and eventually each game came down to a long field goal attempt. One was true, one was wide right and the Redskins split the two games.
To their credit, the Lions have not quit after falling behind early. They answered the Falcons' 21-point blitz with 14 unanswered in the second period. After falling behind Green Bay 21-0 they rallied to take a one-point lead in the fourth quarter before collapsing in a barrage of Packer pick-sixes.
So the trap is set. If the Redskins can't get an early cushion the Lions have the ability to get their act together and put on a serious scoring run. The Redskins could find themselves looking up at the wrong end of a six-point game with the Ford Field crowd screaming for the home team's first win.
Jim Zorn will need to go out aggressively and try to put up a quick score or two in order to take the momentum. Maybe this is the game for Devin Thomas, returning to his home state, to score his first NFL touchdown. Maybe this is the game for Jason Campbell let loose against the defense that he torched for 248 yards and two touchdowns at FedEx Field last year. Maybe Clinton Portis will pick up a buck-ten on about 18 carries thanks to the effectiveness of Campbell and watch Shaun Alexander finish out the game.
Maybe all those things will happen and it still will be a close game, anyway. The Redskins own the fourth quarter and they'll have to again hold off a game Lions team.
Redskins 27, Lions 21
Rich Tandler blogs about the Skins at RealRedskins.com and he is the author of the upcoming book The Redskins Chronicle. You can reach Rich by email at firstname.lastname@example.org