Darin Ackerman – If Megatron isn’t ready to go, the coaching staff will need to a do a much better job of putting together a “non-Calvin” game plan than they did last week. With a defense that ranks in the top ten in points and yards allowed, the absence of Calvin will make all the difference without some adjustments. Minus Calvin, the Lions need to move Bush into the slot, spread out the defense with multiple receiver sets and effectuate a short passing attack or we’ll see a repeat of last week. With Calvin, the Lions will score enough points to win the game, as the defense should be able to keep Cleveland’s offense in check. I believe this game to be critical to the Lions’ fragile psyche – a win will send them into a two-game home stretch and a good possibility at a 5-3 record heading into the bye, while a loss could mean a 3-5 swing. I’ve been burned before, but I’ll put my trust in the coaching staff to be better prepared if CJ isn’t ready to roll. Lions: 21 Browns: 17
Justin Simon – Why do I feel so nervous about the Browns? THE BROWNS?! Maybe it’s the fact that they have one of the NFL’s best defenses and without Calvin Johnson in the lineup the Lions offense sputters to a halt. Johnson practiced both Thursday and Friday this week so that’s a good sign he could be back this Sunday.
I’m excited to see if the Lions offensive line can bounce back. Last week against the Packers stout 3-4 front they really struggled to open holes in the run game, and with the passing game struggling that’s not a good formula for success. Reggie Bush needs to be a bigger part of the offense if the Lions want to move the ball in this game. Ray Horton loves to blitz, and the Lions should be able to exploit some of those looks by getting Reggie Bush in space.
On the other side, Cleveland has a few big play options in Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron, but there is a real concern with the man delivering them the ball. Brandon Weeden has the tendency to hold on to the ball, and I expect the Lions defensive line to get to him throughout the game. I think this game is going to be a tight matchup. Both defenses are playing at a high level, but at the the end of the day I expect the Lions offense to be better than Cleveland’s. Lions 17, Browns 14
Aaron Meckes – Even if Calvin Johnson plays, Detroit’s offense is going to struggle against an underrated Browns defense. Detroit will have to win this game on the other side of the ball. If they can pressure Brandon Weeden, good things are going to happen. A defensive touchdown is the difference, and the Lions win 27-20.