Scott McMahon

Lions Face Statement Game at Washington

Created on Sept. 21, 2013 4:17 PM EST

The Detroit Lions visit the Washington Redskins on Sunday in a game sure to showcase two high-flying offenses. Both teams rank in the top 10 in yards per game and passing yards per game, and there’s no reason why Robert Griffin III and Matthew Stafford won’t be able to pad those stats.

But for the Lions, this game won’t just be about putting more points on the board than the Redskins. Sunday will be about making a statement to the rest of the league that the Detroit Lions are a legitimate threat in the NFL.

The Washington defense enters Week 3 with the absolute worst defense in the league in terms of yards allowed per game—the Redskins have given up an average of 511.5 yards in the first two weeks of the season, including over 600 yards to the Packers in Week 2. Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers completed 81% of his passes, and threw for 480 yards and four touchdowns, while running back James Starks gained 132 yards on the ground. In their Week 1 loss to Philadelphia, Washington allowed more than five yards per play on the ground, and 200 more through the air.

We all know what the Lions offense is capable of, and they should be able to take advantage of the soft Redskins D. Stafford is the fifth highest rated passer in the NFL (102.0), 11th in passing yards, and 7th in completion percentage. Plus, he’s got the best receiver in the NFL on his side. The running game also has the potential to be explosive—as we saw Week 1 against Minnesota—and will be used frequently against the 32nd ranked Washington rushing defense. 

My point is: Stafford and the Lions offense need to dominate the offensive side of the ball on Sunday—not just for the sake of a victory, but for proving their worth in the NFL. Detroit must show that they can handle subpar defenses like that of the Redskins, and win games that they should win.

To do so, the Lions will have to overcome some adversity. First of all, they’re on the road at a Washington stadium known for its terrible field conditions. Secondly, Reggie Bush may not be able to play with his knee still banged up. Finally, the Redskins offense is nothing to take lightly, especially against a Lions secondary that has given up its fair share of big plays thus far.

But every successful, playoff-caliber team must go through its share of adversity, unless you’re the 2007 New England Patriots. When a star player goes down, another needs to step up. Joique Bell has been a serviceable backup and change-of-pace back, and now it’s time to show that he can handle a bigger role if he needs to. The Lions secondary will have to show that it can contain the passing attack of a strong quarterback—especially before elite QBs like Rodgers come to town.

The NFC is wide-open this year—any number of teams have the capability to make a playoff run. Only Seattle looks like a clear lock this early in the season to advance to the postseason, so Detroit needs to prove that they belong in the NFC playoff conversation.

Look for a hungry Lions team on Sunday, and a statement victory on the road in Washington.

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