Detroit and Cincinnati square off for just the 11th time in the series today at Ford Field. The Bengals hold a 7-3 series edge.
It was against Cincinnati in 1992 that Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders passed Billy Sims to become Detroit's all-time leading rusher. Sanders had 151 yards and a touchdown in the 19-13 Lions victory.
A LOOK AT THE STATS
|Points per game||27.0 (6)||20.2 (23)|
|Total yards per game||378.5 (9)||355.7 (12)|
|Rushing yards||94.2 (21)||110.3 (16)|
|Passing yards||284.3 (6)||245.3 (16)|
|Points allowed||23.3 (19)||18.5 (7)|
|Total yards allowed||393.2 (26)||317.7 (8)|
|Rushing yards allowed||124.8 (29)||101.3 (10)|
|Passing yards allowed||268.3 (21)||216.3 (9)|
|Turnover ratio||+5 (7t)||-2 (22t)|
BY THE NUMBERS
8: Takeaways by the Lions defense in two games at Ford Field this year. That's more than half of their total for the year of 13.
69: Sacks for the Bengals defense since 2012, which ties the Denver Broncos for the NFL lead over that span.
39.8: The average starting field position for the Lions at home this season. That's No. 1 in the NFL. On the road it's the 20.3-yard line (worst in the NFL).
1,023: Yards after the catch for Lions receivers this year, which are the second-most in the NFL.
0: Points scored by the Lions in their first possession of the game this year.
Atkins plays the three-technique in the Bengals defense and they'll move him to either side of the line.
When Sims was asked about Atkins earlier this week, his response was: "It's going to be a long day."
That should tell you all you need to know about how good Atkins is.
An All Pro selection last year, Atkins has four sacks this year after finishing with 12.5 in 2012.
He'll probably be the toughest challenge all year for the interior of the offensive line. Expect center
Green's production has gone hand-and-hand with the up-and-down season for quarterback Andy Dalton.
Green had only 22 catches for 199 yards and one touchdown in Weeks 2-5, when Dalton was struggling the most this season.
The Bengals want to get Green down the field on the outside part of the field and it's up to Houston to force him into the middle of the field and into short and intermediate routes to limit the damage he can cause.
Lions linebackers vs. RB Giovani Bernard
My counterpart at bengals.com, Geoff Hobson, had a nice fact in Saturday's "Opposing View". In games where the Bengals rush the ball at least 30 times, quarterback Andy Dalton has a 16-1 record.
Bernard is having a terrific season with 438 total yards. Like the Lions'
RB Reggie Bush vs. Bengals linebackers
The Bengals have a physical front seven and all three of the their linebackers – Ray Maualuga, Vontaze Burfict and James Harrison -- are terrific against the run, but they'll never be referenced as fleet of foot in space.
The Lions picked on the Browns linebackers in the pass game in the second half last week and could look to do the same a little earlier on this week.
These are two teams that are similarly matched.
They both feature multi-dimensional backs, an All Pro receiving threat and great defensive fronts.
When teams are so closely matched, the quarterback play and the turnover battle is usually the difference.
Stafford has the edge in the quarterback play. He's thrown for more yards, touchdowns and fewer interceptions on the year and his passer rating is 95.0, compared to 87.2 for Dalton.
Stafford will be tested this week, though. The Bengals haven't given up a 300-yard passer in 20 straight games.
Zeitler, the second-year first-round pick, has started every game he's played for the Bengals, but he'll have his hands full with Suh.
If Suh dominates the game, like he has in the previous two home games for Detroit, the Bengals offense, and particularly Andy Dalton, are in for a long day.
Suh has been the starting point for a lot of Lions interceptions and turnovers this year and it's Zeitler's job to limit that havoc, just like it is for Sims and Warford on the Bengals' Atkins.
OTHER PLAYERS TO WATCH: LIONS
Johnson practiced all week for the Lions and will play more than the 38 snaps he played last week in Cleveland. He impacts the game in so many ways when he's on the field. In his past eight games vs. AFC opponents, Johnson has 60 catches for 1,070 yards (133.8 per game) and seven touchdowns.
Had a career-high three touchdowns last week and is the first tight end in team history with three touchdowns in a game. Five of his seven catches this season have been for a touchdown.
The third-year defensive tackle needs to put some nagging injuries behind him and take advantage of the one-on-one matchups playing next to Suh provides him. Maybe some home cooking will help. Fairley has 3.5 sacks, two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and a touchdown in his past five at home.
OTHER PLAYERS TO WATCH: BENGALS
BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB:
The Bengals have a very good two-headed rushing attack with Bernard and Green-Ellis, not unlike the Lions have with Reggie Bush and
Jermaine Gresham, TE:
Needs four receptions to become the fifth tight end in club history with 200. Gresham (24) and rookie tight end Tyler Eifert (19) have combined for 43 receptions this year.
Wallace Gilberry, DE:
Geno Atkins, Carlos Dunlap and Michael Johnson get a lot of recognition along that Bengals defensive front, but Gilberry has 2.5 sacks in his past two games and three for the season.