8-4 Detroit Lions Not Looking Past 2-10 Tampa Bay Buccaneers


Detroit Lions vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tampa Bay
Sunday, December 7, 2014 – 1:00 pm ET
Avg. Yds (Rk)CategoryAvg. Yds (Rk)
230.3 (18th)Pass Off.262.7 (9th)
83.2 (28th)Rush Off.81.7 (29th)
245.2 (21st)Pass Def.235.0 (12th)
116.0 (18th)Rush Def.65.9 (1st)
Ford Field
Detroit, MI
Passing clouds. Chilly. 37 °F, Wind: 8.64 mph/E

Make no mistake about it, the Detroit Lions (8-4) have their sights set on a post season birth. That doesn’t mean however, that they are looking past the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-10) this week.

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The Lions will be looking to add their sixth win out of seven home games so far in 2014 when the welcome the Bucs to the Motor City for the second time in two seasons. It is also the first of three straight games for Detroit vs. teams with a losing record.

The Lions are coming off a 34-17 victory on Thanksgiving day against the Chicago Bears at home. It was a big game for the Lions offense as they seemed to correct some of the woes that had plagued them over previous weeks.

Matthew Stafford and co. raked up 474 yards and scored more than 24 points for the first time since week one against the New York Giants.

Now, they look to continue the momentum against a struggling, but talented Buccaneers defense.

"“It’s something to build off of,” said quarterback Matthew Stafford.  “Just being consistent with it, not having a bad quarter – maybe a bad series here, one or two, but making sure that we were playing well in every quarter.”"

Some additional good news for the Lions offense is that both running back Reggie Bush and left tackle Riley Reiff are expected to return on Sunday. Bush has missed four of the last five games while battling an ankle injury.

The Lions are enter Sunday’s match up sitting at 8-4 and are currently the No. 6 seed in the NFC playoff picture. However, some of the players aren’t looking that far ahead yet, and for good reason too.

"“We know that trap, we’ve fallen into it,” center Dominic Raiola said. “It’s a work in progress. We’re gonna keep the pressure on ourselves and keep the pedal down. It’s a brand new week and a brand new challenge.”"

Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Bucs were flagged 13 times in week 13, and are tied with Seattle for most penalties in the league. They have also let fourth-quarter leads slip away in five of their 10 defeats.

Against the Cinncinati Bengals last week, Tampa Bay got to quarterback Andy Dalton two times and picked him off three times. As a unit, they have shown significant signs of improvement since a four game stretch in which they allowed 41.3 points and 466 total yards per game.

Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

On the opposite side of the field, the Detroit Lions defense has consistently hung tough among the best defenses in the league since the beginning of the season.  Even without defensive tackle Nick Fairley, the Lions have limited opponents to 49.8 rushing yards per game and 2.7 per carry over their last four. They allowed 13 yards on eight carries last week – the fewest they’ve given up since 1991.

For me, the key to this game undoubtedly lands squarely on the shoulders of Matthew Stafford. Stafford is coming off one of his best performances of the season, completing 34 of 45 passes for a season-high 390 yards with two touchdowns against Chicago. He has also thrown three touchdowns in each of his two games versus Tampa Bay, though he had four interceptions in a 24-21 loss in the most recent matchup last season.

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