3. What do the Detroit Lions need to do to be successful against the Browns?
Avoiding obvious passing situations is the best way. If they can get to 2nd-and-7 or 3rd-and-4, they can keep the Browns honest on defense. The other thing the Lions have to be able to do well is picking up the blitz. In the games the Browns have lost against the Dolphins and Ravens, the blocking schemes were able to adjust and protect and give their quarterbacks time to make plays. Since the Browns tend to send a lot of rushers, there is space in the field for plays to be made no matter who is covering.
Defensively, as long as that defensive line can get consistent pressure on Weeden, it will be a grind to score points for the Browns. They are apparently trying to work to get him to speed things up, but he has yet to prove it. Double Gordon as Weeden uses him as a security blanket. Weeden is not someone who has done a great job of going away from his primary read. And the Browns have not had a good running game yet, so keep them on that path and the Lions will put Weeden situations where he has to make plays to win.
4. I have to ask for some Lions fans – do you expect the Browns to trade Josh Gordon?
No. It all comes down to the price. The Browns evidently like Josh Gordon enough and believe in him enough where they are not pricing him to move. If a team wants to take on the risks and talent that Gordon has, the Browns have reportedly set the price at a second round pick. That is a steep price to pay for a team that would be getting an extremely talented player but a player one drug issue away from a year away from the league. It seems as though a team could make that leap and give Gordon a 24-hour babysitter along the lines of Dez Bryant but it is still risky.
That is exactly the situation with Trent Richardson. They set the price at a 1st round pick. The Colts went up to that price and took it, amazingly enough. The Browns do not appear interested in settling for less.
5. What is your prediction for Sunday’s game?
5. If Calvin Johnson is out, I have a difficult time where the Lions score points. Johnson just does so much for that offense and creates opportunities for teammates by often taking two defenders out of the play. Without that presence and without Nate Burleson, the Lions are asking Matthew Stafford to make a ton of plays with Reggie Bush, Brandon Pettigrew, Tony Scheffler, and some middling wide receivers. So from that standpoint, I could see the Browns winning a game like that 20-10 or something along those lines.
If Johnson is able to play and play at a reasonably high level, it changes everything. The Lions will have opportunities but that defense will still make them earn it. In that scenario, I could see where both teams go up top to their playmakers and Reggie Bush having a bigger impact. At that point, the game suddenly could go either way and if it comes down to which team has the better quarterback, Matthew Stafford obviously gets the edge.