The Lions and Rams kick off the 2012 season today. Need some help with a few things to watch for while the game is being played? I offer these five:
1. Lions Running Game – The Lions have something of a mess on their hands at running back. It’s not entirely their fault but it is the position they find themselves. The trio they thought they would open the season with of Jahvid Best, Mikel Leshoure and Kevin Smith is down to a Kevin Smith solo act. Best is on the PUP list after suffering a concussion last October and Leshoure is serving the first game of a two game suspension. Kevin Smith gave the Lions a breath of fresh air a year ago but can he carry the load once again? The Lions don’t necessarily strive for a balanced offensive attack but it sure would be nice to be able to run the ball when they choose to do so. It could be especially important late in the game.
2. Lions Sack Total – Kyle Vanden Bosch said this week that he expects the Lions to lead the league in sacks. With history as a guide, it will take between 47 and 61 sacks for them to have a chance to meet that goal. That means starting off with three or more sacks against the Rams. Will they do it?
3. Rams Running Game – Sam Bradford is a nice young quarterback but Steven Jackson will have to have a good game if the Rams are to have any chance at pulling off an upset. Containing Jackson will be a key for the Lions defensive line who will need to play smart and be mindful of the run on their way to the quarterback.
4. Megatron – Calvin Johnson is officially one of those players for whom fans can dream up wild statistical scenarios. CJ himself said his goal is 100 yards in every game this season and that becoming the first wide receiver to eclipse the 2,000 yard mark for a season would be “great” and “fantastic”. No kidding. His season pace gets set in week one, what will it look like? If the end of the 2011 season is any indication, “great” and “fantastic” are only the beginning.
5. Ford Field Faithful – 2011 saw Ford Field finally give the Lions the kind of home field advantage they haven’t had since the days of 80,000 fans packed the Pontiac Silverdome. With the 2012 full of expectations for the Detroit Lions, the opening day crowd should be spirited and loud early and often. The advantage often translated into false start penalties against opposing teams a year ago.