NBC, listening to Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth call the game with such brilliance. I especially enjoy Sunday Night Football when the matchup looks to be enticing.
Fortunately, this week on the schedule features a game that is shaping up to be thrilling. We are going to need to get our popcorn ready for the Week 8 Sunday Night Football tilt. I see two good football teams looking to lay it all on the line in attempts to come up with a victory.
This blog intends to discuss all the key factors that will influence how the game plays out. In turn, you will soak up some very valuable advice and tips when it comes to betting Sunday’s nights showdown. If you are ready to dive into the Steelers vs. Lions clash, let’s get this thing going!
I am genuinely excited for this one ladies and gentlemen. I am not even a huge Steelers or Lions fan, but this game appears to have everything I look for when it comes to watching NFL on television. Both teams have some compelling storylines heading into Sunday we want to be aware of before we start throwing money at the game.
Let’s start by looking at the visiting team.
The Pittsburgh Steelers finally look like they are playing the football many of us knew they were capable of playing. After throwing up a complete stinker at home in Week 5 against the Jaguars in front of their beloved home fans, something has clicked in the Pittsburgh locker room.
A big upset-win on the road in Week 6 against the then-undefeated Kansas City Chiefs was the type of victory that can jumpstart a squad. After a convincing 15-point disposal of the Cincinnati Bengals last week, Mike Tomlin looks to have his team on the right path towards making a playoff run.
I have noticed a trend that is very obvious with this Steelers team. I am no genius, I just did the homework. The 5-2 Steelers have a recipe for winning games and a recipe for losing them. Let me show you exactly what I mean.
In the last five weeks, the Steelers have won three games and lost two. Let’s take a look at the play-calling disparity in those five contests.
Week 4 Win
Ben Roethlisberger Passing Attempts 30
Le’Veon Bell Rushing Attempts 35
Week 6 Win
Ben Roethlisberger Passing Attempts 25
Le’Veon Bell Rushing Attempts 32
Week 7 Win
Ben Roethlisberger Passing Attempts 24
Le’Veon Bell Rushing Attempts 34
Week 3 Loss
Ben Roethlisberger Passing Attempts 39
Le’Veon Bell Rushing Attempts 15
Week 5 Loss
Ben Roethlisberger Passing Attempts 55
Le’Veon Bell Rushing Attempts 15
Now it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure this one out. As one of my favorite sayings in sports goes:
“Men Lie. Women Lie. Children Lie. Numbers Don’t.”
When the Steelers rely on “Big Ben” to sling it around, they just aren’t successful. When they emphasize getting the ball to their workhorse back Le’Veon Bell, what do you know- they win games.
Look, the Rooney family isn’t paying me to run the team or be the offensive coordinator. But if the Steelers owners did put me in charge- you can bet I’d structure my game plan around pounding the ball between the tackles with #26. Le’Veon Bell is arguably the best all-around running back in the National Football League. It’d be a shame to not showcase him in as many offensive plays as possible.
As far as Week 8’s tussle with the Lions team, it will be interesting to see which direction offensive coordinator Todd Haley decides to go. The Lions rushing defense is fairly stout, ranking 8th in the league in rushing yards against per game.
However, if Haley, Tomlin, and the Steelers are looking at the writing on the wall- they will see that running the ball at a heavy dosage is their formula to success. Trying to fling the ball around the field and putting the pressure on the shoulders of their quarterback has proven to be their demise.
I look for the Steelers to try and establish the run early. I am just not so sure it is going to work out for them. Let’s look at across the sideline and check out what the Lions will be looking to achieve.
This should be fascinating. The Detroit Lions are a tough team to figure out. One series they show signs of being a premier NFL team. The next series they look like a junior varsity squad running around like chickens with their heads cut off. Which Lions team will show up this week?
I expect to see a hungry, organized Lions team on Sunday Night. Here’s why:
The Lions are coming off their bye week. Anyone who pays attention to the football season knows how important this week is. The 17-week NFL season is as grueling as it gets. You don’t hear players complain when they are told they have an off week to rest up and prepare for the remainder of the season.
The bad news for the Steelers is this also means the Lions have had two weeks to game plan and develop a scheme. That is double the amount of preparation time the Steelers have put in towards the scoping out the Lions’ players.
How will this affect Sunday night’s final outcome? That remains to be seen. If I could predict NFL games perfectly, I’d be up in a Press Box sipping Champagne watching the game live- not at my desk writing about it in this blog!
I may not be a betting expert, but I watch and follow the league. I pay close attention to the details that influence the betting landscape. I don’t worry so much about what the public says from watching the game. I prefer to look at the data. I look at the facts and interpret them into what I expect to see the following game.
In the case of the Detroit Lions, I see a competitive team that will come out firing on all cylinders for their nationally-televised bout Sunday evening. The Lions have a habit of playing great football in front of their crowd, especially in a big spot like Sunday Night Football. Unfortunately for Lions fans, they generally are unable to carry that momentum over when they travel and play on the road.
We don’t have to worry about how the Lions perform on the road for this matchup- and that is where we can find our edge.
I mentioned in the section above what the Steelers like to try and do on the football field. Let’s flip the script and take a peek at what the Lions aims to accomplish on the offensive side of the ball.
Opposite of the Steelers, the Lions’ ingredients to winning football games revolves around their quarterback getting the job done. The Lions don’t have a cast of Offensive Pro-Bowl selections surrounding their offensive leader like the Steelers and some other teams have. Matthew Stafford must play well in order for the Lions to win- it’s fairly straightforward.
This isn’t always a bad thing, as Stafford has proven he can lead his team and drive down the field and score points. I imagine this will be the philosophy for offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter when his offensive unit takes the field against Pittsburgh.
This goes against the grain as the Steelers defense is sporting a spiffy 147 passing yards per game against average – good enough for tops in the league. The problem is the Lions are not equipped with the player personnel to try and run the ball all night long against the stout front seven of Pittsburgh.
Stafford and the Lions will have to throw the ball down the field to be effective. Remember, the Lions are coming off a bye week and are playing in front of their fired-up crowd on NBC, in front of millions of viewers. I don’t see any other scenario other than the Lions trying to force-feed the ball down the field. That can only be done on the shoulders (right shoulder to be exact!) of Matthew Stafford.
The Sunday Night Football game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Detroit Lions is going to be captivating. The evidence points us straight towards what should be a fantastic football game. Why?
Let’s not forget, the Lions gave up a league-high 52 points in the last time they took the field. Yes, they had a bye week to try and sort out their defensive issues. But let’s be honest. This defense has holes and the Steelers should be able to score some points.
On the other side of the ball, the Steelers defense has been tremendous, but facing a Lions attack that has been potent on their home turf is a much more difficult task than a what they face on a typical week. Don’t expect to see a repeat performance of the putrid nine points the depleted Ravens offense scored against Pittsburgh back in Week 4.
The fact that this game is being played on Sunday Night Football, a nationally-televised game on NBC means that we can expect to see the Lions put up some points. Matt Stafford has never shied away from the spotlight, we don’t expect that to start this Sunday night.
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