Start Time: Sunday, 18:00
TV: Live on Sky Sports 3
This game has been priced-up by most bookies as being the highest scoring of Week Three. And I agree. But even then, I think they've underestimated just how many points there could be, in what equates to a shootout between two of the strongest offences in the NFL.
Detroit's offence is a beast when on song. Calvin Johnson is for many people the top receiver in the league. Certainly he looked it at times in Arizona last week. Especially when taking a difficult pass in heavy coverage and sprinting away from the Cardinals defence for a 72 yard score. With 116 yards and two TDs last Sunday, Johnson showed he's at the top of his game right now.
The Lions now also have something they've lacked since the days of Barry Sanders. And that's a running game. Reggie Bush treated home fans to 101 rushing yards and a TD on his Detroit debut. He also added 90 yards in receptions, as the Lions romped over Minnesota 34-24. Last week may have looked like a dud from Bush, but that was solely down to a leg injury sustained in the first half. By trying to play on, the veteran runner only succeeded in coughing-up a game changing turnover, as the Lions blew it late, losing 25-21 in Arizona.
Bush though says he expects to be fit come Sunday. And that must warm the heart of Lion's quarterback Matthew Stafford, who's posted an impressive 635 yards passing in the first two weeks. With Johnson and Bush on the field together, Stafford has two deadly receiving weapons to look for. The dual run-catch threat of Bush means defences have to pay extra-special attenton to the running back, but they also know they can't take their eye of Johnson, who regularly receives special attention from opponents in the form of double coverage. All this could allow Nate Burleson to sneak in under the radar, with Detroit's number two receiver good enough to weigh-in with some valuable receptions amid the defensive mayhem.
Perhaps surprisingly though it's Washington who, on paper at least, have the offensive edge. Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III can boast 14 yards and one touchdown more than his counterpart Stafford so far. Alfred Morris has gained 37 more yards, and from fewer carries, than Reggie Bush. And even at wide receiver, Washington's Pierre Garcon has earned 54 yards more than the prolific Johnson. Make no mistake, the Redskins have dangerous offensive weapons in abundance.
So why are Washington 0-2? Well that's down their abysmal defence. It conceded 33 points to a Philadelphia side we now know isn't as good as people thought. Then it was torn to shreds by Aaron Rodgers in a 38-20 loss to the Packers.
And this is where Detroit gain the upper hand. Their defence isn't great. But it's nowhere near as bad as that of the Redskins. The points should flow freely on both sides of the ball, but ultimately it's the Detroit defence's ability to make the occasional big play, such as the pick-six against Arizona, that could make the difference.
Washington have already played against what I consider two of the league's weakest teams against the pass. Excluding their games against the Giants, it only gets harder for the Redksins from here on in. Detroit though should have been match-sharpened by challenging contests against the Vikings and Cardinals. I expect their offence to find things easier, by comparison, in the U.S. capital.
Back Total Points Over 48.5 @ 1.875/6
Back Detroit Lions to win @ 1.981/1
Back Detroit Lions Points Over 22.5 @ 1.618/13