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Gameday Tipsheet - Week 10

Posted Nov 12, 2010

Top 3 Individual Matchups
1. Terrence McGee vs. Calvin Johnson –
McGee finally looks ready to return to the lineup after missing four games due to a nerve problem in his leg, and he gets a heck of a welcome back in the form of receiving giant (6’5” 236) Calvin Johnson. Johnson is a matchup nightmare that requires double team attention.

2. Eric Wood vs. Ndamukong Suh – Wood will have to contest with the dominant rookie that leads the team in sacks with 6.5. There are not many defensive tackles that push the pocket as well as Suh and double teaming him is not an easy choice with proven veteran Corey Williams lined up next to him.

3. Donte Whitner vs. Brandon Pettigrew – The Bills will likely mix and match different defensive backs on Pettigrew and Tony Scheffler for that matter. The Lions’ two tight ends are third and fourth on the team in receiving respectively and have combined for four touchdowns in eight games.

Top 2 Bills Advantages
Good advantage –
Punt return – Buffalo may be without their top punt returner in Roscoe Parrish, who is out for the season with a wrist injury, but C.J. Spiller is about as good an alternative as there is. Detroit has been below average on punt coverage this season ranking 20th in the league as they’re allowing almost 10 yards a return.

Best advantage – Red zone offense – The Lions are not bad when it comes to red zone defense ranking 16th in the league, but Buffalo has been hot of late cashing in with touchdowns on every one of their red zone trips the past two games. They rank second in the NFL in red zone touchdown percentage scoring almost 70 percent of the time (68.8%).

Scouting Eye
Hill steps in… again
With Matthew Stafford out of the lineup again with a shoulder injury suffered in Week 9 vs. the Jets, veteran Shaun Hill will again step in as the starter at quarterback for the Lions this week. Hill, who was acquired via trade this offseason, has been productive. He has completed 63 percent or more of his passes in his last three starts, and has a pair of 300-yard passing games (vs. PHI & @GB).

Hill is expected to operate solely out of the shotgun Sunday as he is less than a month removed from suffering a broken left forearm against the Giants (10/17).

Best out of the backfield
Lions rookie RB Jahvid Best has been fighting a nagging turf toe injury, but it has not done much to slow him down as a receiving option out of the backfield. He multi-dimensional back not only leads the Lions in receiving, but is the league leader among running backs in receiving yards (356) and receptions (41).

Among NFL rookies he’s tied for second in scoring with five touchdowns. The only area where Best has struggled is carrying the football as he’s averaging just 3.2 yards per rush.

D-Line Power
Detroit’s defensive line has proven to be a formidable one when it comes to applying pass pressure. Top pick Ndamukong Suh leads the team in sacks with 6.5, but the production up front is very balanced with ends Cliff Avril and Kyle Vanden Bosch contributing four quarterback takedowns each. Their penetrating front is the main reason the Lions rank third in the league in sacks per play.

Takeaway tally
While takeaways have been hard to come by for the Bills this season, the Lions are feasting on opposing offenses. Though Detroit is in the middle of the pack in terms of turnover differential (+3 – 12th), it’s not from lack of taking the ball away.

The Lions rank third in the league in total takeaways with 19 in eight games. Cornerback Alphonso Smith is responsible for more than half of the team’s interceptions with five on the year, and the defense has also recovered 10 fumbles.

Look out for Logan
Picked up right before the start of the regular season, return man Stefan Logan has been a difference maker for Detroit’s special teams. Logan currently ranks third in the league in kick return average (29.4) thanks in large part to a 105-yard return for a touchdown. He also ranks fourth in the league in punt return average.

He’s the only player in football right now to rank in the top five in both categories. Logan is largely the reason why the Lions offense ranks eighth in the league in average drive start as they begin possessions just beyond their own 29-yard line (29.1).

New kicker
Jason Hanson has been the Lions kicker since the first George Bush was sworn in as President of the United States, but a knee injury suffered last week has forced him from the lineup. The Lions signed Dave Rayner to replace Hanson for this week’s matchup with the Bills.

Rayner has not attempted an NFL kick since 2008 and has had stints with five NFL clubs. His only kicking job that lasted a full season came in Green Bay in 2006 where he went 26-35 (74.3%). He was most recently with the Bengals in 2008 as an injury replacement.

Buffalo Chips
Quote of the Week
“It’s been a month, so hopefully this week if it comes down to a tight game hopefully we’ll have an advantage here at home.”
--WR Lee Evans on playing first home game at ‘The Ralph’ in 35 days.

Stat of the Week
The Detroit Lions have not won a road game in their last 24 attempts (0-24).

Milestones in reach
Ryan Fitzpatrick aims for a 10th straight game with at least one touchdown pass.

Fred Jackson needs 94 receiving yards for 1,000 in his career.

Steve Johnson needs nine receptions to post the first 50-catch season of his career.

Final note
Five of Buffalo’s eight games this season have been decided by eight points or less.