Lions DE Ziggy Ansah vs. Browns OT Joe Thomas
Easily, this is the most intriguing matchup of the game, just because it will allow the Lions to see how far rookie defensive end Ziggy Ansah has come in his rookie season.
Thomas is perennially one of the elite left tackles in the NFL, and has been either a first- or second-team All-Pro every years since 2008. That’s as tough as tests get for a defensive end.
Ansah has certainly impressed through his first five games as a professional, and he appears to be improving each week (a trend that has held true since the first moment he stepped on a football field). But Thomas has shut down players with more than just pure athleticism before. If Ansah can generate some push here, he will show that he is truly evolving as a player.
Realistically, Ansah is probably not far enough along to hold his own against a player like Thomas. But this game will serve as a great measuring stick for his development. If a player of Ansah’s relative inexperience has some success against one of the NFL’s premier left tackles now, who will be able to stop him in three years?