LIONS INSIDER

GAME PREVIEW: Can the Lions get back on track against Tampa Bay at home?

Posted Nov 24, 2013

After a disappointing loss at Pittsburgh last week, Detroit looks to get back in the win column with a win over the Bucs

The next five days will tell us a whole lot about this Detroit Lions football team. They have two games over the span of the next five days, starting today against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-8).

The Green Packers lie in wait on Thanksgiving Day, but head coach Jim Schwartz refused to answer any questions this week about that matchup. His focus was squarely on the Buccaneers, who've won two straight after starting 0-8.

"In all due respect, I think I'll answer those questions next week," Schwartz said about Thanksgiving. "We're getting too far ahead of ourselves. We've got Tampa Bay on Sunday. They have won their last two games and the game they lost before that was at Seattle and they had a 21-point lead. That's got all of our attention right now."

As it should.

HISTORY

Detroit and Tampa Bay have met 54 times in the regular season, with the Lions holding the series edge, 29-25-0. The two were division foes in the former NFC Central from 1977-2002.

Detroit won the most recent matchup, 27-20, in the 2011 regular season opener.

A LOOK AT THE STATS

 LionsBucs
Record 6-4 2-8
Points per game 26.5 (6) 18.7 (30)
Total yards per game 414.3 (4) 310.8 (28)
Rushing yards 103.7 (21) 118.6 (13)
Passing yards 310.6 (3) 192.2 (30)
Points allowed 25.3 (22) 23.7 (16)
Total yards allowed 378.4 (25) 341.7 (15)
Rushing yards allowed 94.6 (5) 101.4 (9)
Passing yards allowed 283.8 (30) 240.3 (18)
Turnover ratio -2 (17t) 5 (8t)

BY THE NUMBERS

6: Consecutive games the Lions have gone without allowing a rushing touchdown in (26 quarters).

72: The number of yards the Lions offense was held to in the second half in Pittsburgh.

140: Tampa Bay has run for at least 140 yards in three straight games for the first time since 2005.

5 KEYS FOR LIONS

CONTINUE TO STUFF THE RUN

The Buccaneers will feature a rookie quarterback in Mike Glennon making just his eighth-career start.

Glennon has played particularly well the last three weeks against Atlanta, Miami and Seattle, throwing two touchdowns passes in each contest. He's also had the benefit of a solid rushing attack behind him to take some of the load off in those games. The Bucs have rushed for at least 140 yards in all three of those contests.

The Lions rank fifth in the NFL against the run and haven't allowed more than 62 rushing yards over the last month.

If the Lions can turn Tampa Bay into a one-dimensional offense, and force Glennon to beat them, the odds of victory go way up.

REGGIE BUSH'S BOUNCE BACK

Running back Reggie Bush had his worst outing as a Lion last week in Pittsburgh. Bush averaged just 2.6 yards per carry and fumbled twice.

Bush is back on the fast and friendly confines of Ford Field this week, however. It's a playing surface where he's averaged 93 rushing yards and 52 receiving yards in four games this season.

Bush is eager to put last week's performance behind him and he seems extra motivated this week.

OTHER WEAPONS STEP UP

One of the biggest disappointments for offensive coordinator Scott Linehan last week was that the complementary weapons on offense didn't step up and make plays like they had in previous weeks. Calvin Johnson had nearly as many yards by himself as all the other receivers combined.

Linehan will get veteran Nate Burleson back this week. Burleson was the team's leading receiver the first three weeks of the season before breaking his forearm. Burleson should have the freshest legs on the field; let's just hope his adrenaline doesn't get the better of him.

DON'T GIVE HOPE

The last thing the Lions want to do at home against a surging team, with nothing more to play for than pride and playing the role of spoiler, is to let them get off to a fast start.

The Lions need to put their foot on the gas from the opening whistle and put the pressure on. Make Tampa Bay play from behind.

The other thing they can't do is turn the ball over. The Bucs have forced 17 turnovers on the year. We saw it with Dallas a few weeks ago where the Lions dominated the game, but turned it over four times and had to come back to win.

HOME COOKING

The Lions are 6-4 and hold their playoff destiny in their own hands. They have four of their last six at Ford Field and that makes for an easy recipe, really. Win at home the rest of the way and they're in.

Every phase of this team seams to play better at home. So, hold serve at Ford Field and handle their business in front of the raucous crowds.

PLAYERS TO WATCH: LIONS

Nate Burleson, WR:

Was leading the team with 19 catches for 239 yards before breaking his arm after a Week 3 game in Washington. Does he return to form or is there a transitional period he'll have to go through?

Ziggy Ansah, DE:

Ansah returns after sitting out the last two and a half games with an ankle injury. He brings a kind of athleticism to the defensive line the Lions have missed the last couple games. He's tied for second among NFC rookies with three sacks.

Nick Fairley, DT:

Don't look now, but Fairley has put together a nice couple games in a row for the Lions. When he plays well the Lions are better on defense. He aims for a third game in a row with a sack.

PLAYERS TO WATCH: BUCS

Vincent Jackson, WR:

Among active players, Jackson has an NFL-best 17.4 average (400 catches, 6,965 yards) per catch. He had 10 catches for 165 yards and a touchdown in a win last week. He's the best playmaker the Bucs have on offense.

Lavonte David, LB:

David is the only player in NFL with 80-plus tackles (86), five-plus sacks (5) and an interception (1). Stafford and Co. will have to know where he is at all times.

Gerald McCoy, DT:

McCoy was the next pick after Ndamukong Suh in the 2010 draft and that'll link the pair the rest of their careers. The first-time Pro Bowler last year had a career-high three sacks last week and has four sacks in last two games.