Cleat Geeks

The Roar: Lions Return to the Den to Host 3-1 Panthers

Carolina and Detroit roll into Week 5 with equal 3-1 records. Both teams are coming off road victories as well.

The Panthers found a way to knock off the defending champs in Foxboro, 33-30. Kicker Graham Gano had received an opportunity of a lifetime by being tossed into a game-winning situation with seconds left on the clock.Image result for graham gano carolina panthers

From 48-yards out, Gano booted the ball and broke the 30-30 tie as time expired, delivering an impressive road win for Carolina.

But was it really that impressive?

Sure, any time you’re able to defeat a team led by Tom Brady, it’s something special, especially if you’re in his building.

The only thing is, the Patriots’ defense isn’t very good or at least hasn’t been through four weeks of the season. Despite New England’s struggles, you have to give credit where credit is due.

Cam Newton and his offense were extremely efficient last Sunday. They were able to move the ball on the ground pretty well with James Stewart and Newton as well. In the air, Newton connected with Kelvin Benjamin and Devin Funchess plenty of times for significant damage.

Defensively, the Panthers had only allowed 16 points to hit the board going into the fourth quarter, but then Brady and his crew started to gel as expected.

Switching over to the men wearing Honolulu Blue and Silver, who collected a 14-7 victory in Minnesota last Sunday.

Detroit’s defense has been a wrecking crew through most of its four weeks of the season. They’re responsible for the Lions’ successful takeoff, but will be battle tested once again with Newton and Co. finding their groove last weekend.

The Lions are exploding to the football these days and are wreaking havoc against opposing offenses by coming up with 11 takeaways thus far.

Detroit will have to contain Carolina on the ground as they can be dangerous. They’ll definitely want and need to keep Newton from getting his legs loose, which will be one of the biggest keys on Sunday.

The more Newton has to throw, the better for the Lions. Although, Newton’s completion percentage is at 65.2%, a career-high. He has been connecting with first-round pick, Christian McCaffrey, quite a bit. Aside from locating McCaffrey out of the backfield, Newton has tossed five interceptions in four games. Not to mention, he’s been sacked 12 times already.

For a pack of Lions that already has seven interceptions, along with 10 sacks, they’re licking their chops. Glover Quin and Darius Slay have two picks apiece, while Anthony Zettel leads the roaring attack with four sacks.

On the offensive side, Matthew Stafford and his crew haven’t been able to explode quite yet. They’re coming off a week where they scored just 14 points, which was strangely good enough on the road, mainly due to the defensive efforts.

Matt Prater was 2-for-3 on the day on field goal attempts, totaling six points. Ameer Abdullah had a rushing score for Detroit and then Stafford found T.J. Jones to successfully complete their two-point conversion.

Abdullah was good on the ground as he carried the ball 20 times for 94 yards. A similar performance would be appreciated this time around.

Through the air, Stafford and the Lions need to get Theo Riddick going out of the backfield. Riddick’s name hasn’t been called a whole lot to this point, but look for that to change as he is one of the biggest pass catching threats out of the backfield in the entire league.

You know Stafford will be shooting darts at Golden Tate and Marvin Jones, per usual, but it will be interesting to see how he includes his tight ends.

Eric Ebron is technically the number one tight end on the Lions’ depth chart, but after struggling in Week 3, Darren Fells caught four passes for 40 yards against the Vikings.

We shall see.

Stafford has options and all of those options will become more dangerous if Abdullah can get Detroit’s running game moving down angle.

Three players from each team have already been ruled out for Sunday’s match-up in the Motor City.

The Panthers will be without safeties Kurt Coleman and Demetrious Cox. Carolina will also be down a center in Ryan Kalil.

The Lions will be without rookie receiver Kenny Golladay for a second consecutive week as he is battling a hamstring issue. Running back Dwayne Washington will miss his third consecutive game as he’s dealing with a quad injury. Linebacker Paul Worrilow will miss this one with a knee issue.

As of right now, defensive ends Mario Addison and Julius Peppers are questionable for the Panthers. Offensive tackle Matt Kalil is also questionable.

For the Lions, among the eight that are listed as questionable, most should be ready to go.

Current exceptions are linebackers Tahir Whitehead and Jarrad Davis. Whitehead is dealing with a pectoral issue and Davis continues to deal with a neck injury. Davis has missed two straight games.

A potential addition in a defensive threat looms as Armonty Bryant’s suspension has come to an end. The 27-year-old defensive end was suspended for the first four weeks of the season.

Bryant was able to return to the practice field this week, but it’s unclear if the Lions will activate him for Sunday’s game or not. They reportedly have until 4pm on Saturday to do so.

 

“Getting back to his old self” is how head coach Jim Caldwell described Bryant’s status.

Bryant has a knack for getting to the quarterback, something the Lions haven’t missed so far, but would be strengthened by adding another pass rushing monster.

It’s going to be an exciting weekend of football in Michigan. Michigan State visits Michigan at the Big House Saturday night at 7:30pm.

The instate rivalry will be the mouth watering appetizer.

Sunday’s match-up between the Panthers and Lions will be that seemingly everlasting five-course meal.

If you’re lucky, the offensive fire power and defensive wizardry will provide your fantasy team (s) success, a cherry on top, if you will.

Kickoff from Ford Field is set for 1pm on Sunday afternoon.

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