Lions-Bucs Final Thoughts: Look for Matthew Stafford's "no-look" pass; quote to note from Danny Amendola and Random Thoughts on Tom Brady, the Bucs, Ndamukong Suh and more, and my pick:
The camera is certain to follow Bucs QB Tom Brady's every move today, as it always does. From the stroll into Ford Field and through the corridors to the visiting team's locker room to the jog off the field after the game, every move is chronicled.
The camera even catches Brady sitting on the bench between plays.
Stafford is likely to cut into some of Brady's air time, and not just as a side act.
Stafford has been a hot news item this week for his gritty effort last week with an injured rib, and for the no-look touchdown pass he threw to wide receiver Marvin Jones Jr. in the first quarter of the loss to the Tennessee Titans.
Stafford was equal parts quarterback and point guard on the play. He looked right to freeze the Titans' secondary, then threw the TD pass to Jones to his left without looking in that direction.
It was not really new to Stafford's arsenal of varied deliveries, but it has been dissected by such people as Dan Orlovsky, Stafford's former teammate on the Lions and a rising star on ESPN.
Orlovsky broke down the play on Twitter – with a note that he'd seen it before.
"People think Patrick Mahomes started the no-look," Orlovsky said. "I love Mahomes. This dude's (Stafford) been doing this since 2009.
"This dude's so good ... the no-look king."
Stafford began experimenting at an early age with different arm angles and ways to deliver passes. The no-look pass was one of them.
"Baseball had a lot to do with it," he said during the week. "I played a bunch of baseball growing up. I threw from all different arm angles – figuring out different ways to throw it.
"As far as no-look type throws, I think it probably started when I started playing with Calvin (Johnson). Everybody on defense knew where I was trying to throw the ball the majority of the time. I was trying to move the underneath coverage."
It was a gradual process before he brought the no-look to a game.
"I just tried it out in walkthroughs," he said. "Have some fun with it in practice – then just do it in game.
"It's just something that happens (in games). It's natural for me. You get better as it goes.
"It's never predetermined. It's tough to explain."
Teammates had a preview of what was to come with Stafford in his first training camp in 2009.
Veteran linebacker Julian Peterson was asked if Stafford reminded him of anyone.
"Magic Johnson," Peterson replied quickly. "No-look passes. He does it all the time."
Quote to note: Amendola on the Lions playing without interim head coach Darrell Bevell and a handful of assistants because of the COVID-19 protocols: "Wild, man -- 2020, expect anything."
Brady & the Bucs: Brady has proved the critics and analysts wrong in a good way for him, but his team has proved them wrong in a bad way.
Brady's poor play as the Patriots went 2-2 in the final four games last season raised speculation that at the age of 43 his play would tail off even more. That has not happened. He has 32 TD passes going into today's game compared to 24 for all of last season.
However, many thought the Bucs were favorites to win the NFC. The Bucs are tied with the Rams for fourth in the NFC with 9-5 won-loss records.
Suh fits: Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh turns 34 on Jan. 8, but he's still a productive, durable player in his 11th season and second with the Bucs.
Suh has played every game in his career except for two he missed in 2011 when still with the Lions for a suspension. He still plays a heavy snap count – 74 percent of the Bucs' defensive snaps, but slightly below the mid-80 percent he averaged until the last two seasons.
Suh still produces. He has five sacks, eight tackles for loss and 16 quarterback hits. Expect him to be revved up to face the Lions, as he was in 2018 when he had one sack in the Rams' victory over the Lions.
Lions honor squad: For the last four years, the Lions added a player who began his active career with the Lions and made the Pro Bowl, as follows:
2019 season Pro Bowl: Wide receiver Kenny Golladay, 2017 third-round draft pick.
2020 season Pro Bowl: Center Frank Ragnow, 2018 first-round draft pick; tight end T.J. Hockenson, 2019 first-round draft pick; punter Jack Fox, 2020 free agent (spent part of 2019 on Chiefs' practice squad).
Prediction: The Lions were underdogs before they were forced to play without a chunk of their coaching staff, and they're bigger underdogs now. Anything can happen in pro football – like the Jets beating the Rams last week to get their first win of the season. No matter who coaches them, it's a stretch to think the Lions will shut down the Bucs' offense.
Pick: Bucs 33, Lions 17.