LIONS INSIDER

GAME PREVIEW: Lions looking to improve to 4-2 with a win at Cleveland

Posted Oct 13, 2013

Lions looking to get back on track today with a win over the Browns

HISTORY

Today will be the 19th meeting in a season series that's been dominated by Detroit. The Lions are looking for their 15th victory since the series with the Browns began in 1952. Detroit is looking to improve to 6-3 on the road in the series.

The last time these two teams played, quarterback Matthew Stafford led a miraculous comeback, albeit injured, in a 38-37 win in 2009 at Ford Field.

A LOOK AT THE STATS

 LIONSBROWNS
Record 3-2 3-2
Points per game 26.2 (10) 20.2 (21)
Total yards per game 381.0 (9) 317.0 (27)
Rushing yards 89.4 (22) 79.0 (24)
Passing yards 291.6 (6) 238.0 (17)
Points allowed 24.6 (18) 18.8 (9)
Total yards allowed 392.8 (24) 301.8 (4)
Rushing yards allowed 124.6 (26) 94.2 (8)
Passing yards allowed 268.2 (26) 207.6 (8)
Turnover ratio +4 (7t) +1 (14t)

BY THE NUMBERS

58.81: Passer rating for opposing quarterbacks this year when the Lions blitz. That's the second lowest total in the NFL. The Lions are one of only two teams (New England) that haven't given up a passing touchdown when blitzing.

11.3: Percent of Matthew Stafford's passes Lions receivers are dropping this season. The league average is 7.3.

502: Total yards for Reggie Bush on the season, the 11th most in the NFL.

KEY MATCHUPS

Lions safeties and linebackers vs. TE Jordan Cameron

Jordon CameronCleveland's Jordon Cameron will present a challenge for the Lions' safeties and linebackers. (Photo: AP Images)

Cameron ranks third among all tight ends with 366 yards on 33 catches and his five touchdowns are second only to Jimmy Graham's six for New Orleans.

"He might be one of the harder matchups I've faced in a long, long time," safety Louis Delmas said of Cameron. "He's fast, tall, physical, athletic and he's smart.

"He's knows how to fake an opponent out, with not just speed, but with his head movement. The film don't lie. He's got five touchdowns and is the leading scorer for them. This week is definitely a big challenge."

Expect the Browns to rely on Cameron even more this week with quarterback Brandon Weeden back in the lineup after briefly losing his job to Brian Hoyer. Weeden will want to get the ball out quick against an attacking Lions defense and Cameron is usually the closest receiver to him. He'll be a hard matchup over the middle for the Lions.

DE Ziggy Ansah vs. OT Joe Thomas

Ansah has been an impact rookie so far, but this will be his toughest test of the season against the All Pro Thomas. Thomas is big, strong and fundamentally sound, which could be his best asset against a rookie like Ansah.

It'll be interesting to see how Ansah stacks up against a player as technique-sound as Thomas. Can his athleticism overcome his lack of experience?

The Browns have given up 22 sacks on the year, which is second most in the NFL. They've also had 210 yards in negative plays, which are the most.

T Riley Reiff vs. OLB Barkevious Mingo

This could really be expanded to all five of the Lions offensive linemen vs. the Browns' front seven, but we'll just focus on one matchup the Lions need to win.

Detroit gave up five sacks last week in Green Bay and Reiff had the toughest outing of his short career giving up two of those.

The Browns run a 3-4 scheme, like the Packers, and Mingo's game is predicated on speed and getting tackles off balance. Reiff will have to trust his technique and use his athleticism to counter Mingo's.

P Sam Martin vs. KR/PR Travis Benjamin

Lions special teams coordinator John Bonamego called Benjamin "One scary dude" this week.

The Cleveland punt returner is one of the fastest players in the league. Last week, he ran back a punt 79 yards for a touchdown and racked up 179 return yards in a 37-24 win over Buffalo. He also has three kickoff returns over 30 yards this season.

The Lions have been one of the best cover units in the NFL this season, in part, to the strong right leg of Martin.

The rookie punter ranks second in punting average (49.5) and will have to be on his game both from a hang-time and directional perspective today to keep Benjamin bottled up.

OTHER PLAYERS TO WATCH: LIONS

Nick Fairley, DT:

Defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham said he expects a good game from his third-year defensive tackle now that the shoulder injury Fairley's been dealing with early on this season is behind him. Frankly, the Lions need him to be better against all the one-on-one matchups he's been seeing. That's their trump card upfront.

Reggie Bush, RB:

Ranks third in NFL with 125.5 scrimmage yards per game (502 yards in for games), but had just 69 total yards in Green Bay last week. With Calvin Johnson on the mend, Bush needs to be better.

Ryan Broyles, WR:

The snap restrictions have been lifted from Broyles, and the second-year receiver is expected to get a full workload in Cleveland. The Lions drafted him to be a chain-mover in the middle of the field. Can he deliver against a tough defense?

OTHER PLAYERS TO WATCH: BROWNS

Josh Gordon, WR:

Gordon has averaged more than 100 receiving yards per game since coming back from a two-game suspension. He's the big-play threat (16.8 avg.) in the Browns offense and Lions cornerback Chris Houston will have his hands full.

Joe Haden, CB:

Calvin Johnson is expected to play in the game and he'll see Haden, one of the game's most talented cornerbacks, for most of the game. Haden is on the same level as Arizona's Patrick Peterson, so Johnson will have his hands full all game. As good as Haden is, however, he will have help over the top in the form of a safety with Johnson.

Jabaal Sheard, OLB:

Before spraining a knee Week 3, Sheard racked up 13 tackles and one sack in three games, making the transition from defensive end to outside linebacker. Sheard told the Cleveland Plain Dealer this week he's expecting to play, which would give a talented Browns defense another weapon today.