The Pittsburgh Steelers will go back on the road in Week 8 and play the Detroit Lions on Sunday Night Football. The 3-3 Lions are coming off their bye week and probably still stinging a little bit from their 52-38 road loss to the New Orleans Saints in Week 5. Not surprisingly, the 5-2 Steelers opened as 3-point road favorites this week over the Lions, according to vegasinsider.com.
After opening their 2017 season with wins over the New York Giants and Arizona Cardinals, the Lions have lost three of their last four games with their only win coming against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 4. Their .500 record aside, the Lions have averaged 26.8 points scored per game in their first six contests of 2017.
The Lions offense is led by veteran quarterback Matthew Stafford, who enters Week 8 with 12 touchdown passes and 4 interceptions. He’s completed 60.4% of his pass attempts so far this season on his way to throwing for 1,428 yards. Stafford, however, has been sacked 23 times so far this season.
The Lions have two experienced wide receivers in Golden Tate and Marvin Jones. Tate leads the team in both receptions (36) and receiving yardage (363), while Jones enters Week 8 with 20 receptions for 280 yards. The two players have combined to catch five touchdown passes from Stafford. Tate, however, is still recovering from a shoulder injury that he suffered in the Lions loss to the Saints and he’s reportedly still wearing a sling as of Monday afternoon. It will now be interesting to see if he’s ultimately able to play Sunday night against the Steelers.
The Lions rushing attack is led by running back Ameer Abdullah. He enters Week 8 with 342 yards rushing and a touchdown on 90 total carries. Abdullah also has 10 catches on the season for 68 yards.
Defensively, the Lions enter Week 8 with 13 sacks on the season. Defensive ends Anthony Zettel and Ezekiel Ansah are tied for the Lions team lead in that statistical category while linebacker Tahir Whitehead currently leads the team in total tackles with 38. As a team, the Lions have registered 14 total takeaways on the season with 9 of those being interceptions. Cornerback Darius Slay leads the team in interceptions with 3 while safety Glover Quin is close on heels with 2.
Against the run so far this season the Lions defense has allowed an average of 94.3 rushing yards per game and an average yards per carry of 3.75 yards.
The Steelers are 8-1 in their last 9 games that they’ve played against the Lions with their only loss coming on Thanksgiving Day in 1998. I’m sure I don’t need to remind you about what happened during that 19-16 overtime loss at the old Pontiac Silverdome.
In the one and only game that Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has played in Detroit against the Lions he threw for 277 and three touchdowns in a 2009 28-20 win. He was also sacked three times in that game and threw one interception which ultimately was returned 38 yards for a touchdown by then-Lions cornerback William James.
The Steelers will have their bye week following Sunday’s game against the Lions and it would be nice to see them enter it on a winning note and thus enter the second half of their 2017 regular season with a 6-2 record and as the No. 1 seed in the AFC.