FanPost

On Paper: Lions vs. Jets

This week, the Lions play in perhaps their biggest game in three years.  The New York Jets come into town following a disappointing performance against Green Bay.  Still, many experts continue to consider the Jets as potential AFC champions. The Lions are coming off of their second win of the season.  Many Detroit fans are giving the Lions more than a fighting chance this week and even some experts are on board (notably: Ron Jaworski and Michael Silver).  Let's see what the numbers say.

Lions Pass Offense (7th) vs. Jets Pass Defense (18th)

(Teams in bold were the home team)

Opponent

Opponent's

Passing YPG

Passing Yards vs. Jets

Opponent's

Season QB Rating

QB Rating vs. Jets

Ravens

225.4

248

84.1

62.2

Patriots

217.6

248

96.6

72.5

Dolphins

232.4

363

79.5

91.4

Bills

185.1

128

83.6

83.6

Vikings

197.0

264

71.7

85.9

Broncos

296.1

209

92.7

71.8

Packers

238.9

170

85.0

59.7

It's a bit surprising to see how underwhelming the Jets' pass defense is performing this year.  The majority of their opponents outgained their season averages against the Jets.  However, only two opponents had higher QB ratings than their season averages when facing their defense.  When this is the case, it is usually a sign that the Jets got out to early leads and allowed opposing quarterbacks to accumulate yardage while still remaining stout. 

Indeed, this is what we see when we delve a little further into the statistics.  The Jets lead the league in opposing completion percentage (a mere 48.8%) and are 11th in opposing yards per pass (6.6).  Teams throw the ball against the Jets 35.4 times per game, good for 11th most.  This clearly accounts for the high amount of yards allowed. 

In terms of game-changing plays, the Jets are again surprisingly lackluster.  They've only mustered five interceptions (24th) and 15 sacks (15th).  This is shocking considering how creative and unpredictable the Jets' defensive blitzing schemes are. 

Matthew Stafford returned last week to some mixed results.  His rust was still showing in the first half, but he slowly improved throughout the game.  Overall his stats were mediocre, but no one can complain about the four touchdowns and the most important stat of all: a win.  He got the job done when the game was on the line, and that's what they're paying him for.

The Lions pass offense remains a huge threat, especially with a healthy Calvin Johnson returning to his dominant form.  The Jets may try to isolate him on Revis Island, but it's going to be hard to keep a 6'5" monster on a 5'11" island.  Lions +1.5

Lions Run Offense (30th) vs. Jets Run Defense (4th)

Opponent

Opponent's

Rushing YPG

Rushing Yards vs. Jets

Opponent's Season Avg YPC

YPC vs. Jets

Ravens

114.9

49

3.6

1.4

Patriots

112.7

52

4.2

2.6

Dolphins

111.3

84

3.9

3.7

Bills

114.4

114

4.5

7.1

Vikings

134.6

96

4.7

4.0

Broncos

67.2

145

2.9

3.9

Packers

97.0

81

4.2

3.1

The Jets run defense is a huge force to be reckoned with.  They've held early all their opponents to below their season averages in both total yards and yards per carry.  Though the Bills put up 7.1 yards per carry against the Jets, 74 of those yards were scrambles by Ryan Fitzpatrick.  Similarly, in the game against the Broncos, running backs only accounted for 87 yards on 26 carries (a lowly 3.3 a carry).

The Lions are continuing to struggle on the ground.  What seemed like another frustratingly uninspiring performance last week was actually somewhat successful.  Kevin Smith looked like a reborn runner and Jahvid Best had a solid run or two.  They combined for 99 yards on 24 carries (4.1 a carry).  Unfortunately, it looks like Smith is still bothered by his knee and might not be as healthy as once considered.  I think they limit Smith's carries this week and Best will have another frustrating week on the ground.  Jets +3.

Jets Pass Offense (27th) vs. Lions Pass Defense (19th)

Opponent

Opponent's Passing YPG Allowed

Passing Yards Allowed vs. Jets

Opponent's Season QB Rating Against

QB Rating Allowed vs. Jets

Ravens

204.6

74

82.3

56.4

Patriots

282.4

220

93.4

124.3

Dolphins

207.9

256

85.5

120.5

Bills

195.6

161

110.0

106.4

Vikings

213.6

191

84.6

59.9

Broncos

204.4

198

93.6

60.1

Packers

217.5

256

68.8

43.3

Not pretty here for Jets fans.  Mark Sanchez and company have not been able to outperform their opponents' defensive averages five out of seven games in both QB rating and yardage.  It is worth noting, however, that five out of their seven opponents are ranked in the top half of the league in passing defense. 

Jets fans will argue that Sanchize has done all that is asked of him.  He has a somewhat respectable (for a second year player) QB rating of 78.8, he has a more than honorable TD:INT ratio of 9:4, and he has looked damn sexy doing it (full disclosure: yes, I did do a google search of "Mark Sanchez sexy" and yes, it did kill me inside, but remember, this is the Jets' perspective).

But what Sanchophiles won't tell you is that he's completing only 53% of his passes (lower than Matt Moore and Derek Anderson), while only averaging 6.3 a pass (26th).  This is with one of the best offensive lines in front of him (11 sacks allowed, ranking 6th) and a great running game to use as a decoy.

Detroit's pass defense continues its slow crawl towards mediocrity and I am slowly believing it to be more than an aberration.  The most anticipated matchup for this game is the Lions' defensive front versus the Jets' offensive line.  If the Jets offense is able to stay balanced, it could keep the Lions defense at bay.  However, the Jets passing threat is not explosive enough to take over this game.  Lions +1.5.

Jets Run Offense (3rd) vs. Lions Run Defense (27th)

Opponent

Opponent's Rushing YPG Allowed

Rushing Yards Allowed vs.

Jets

Opponent's Avg YPC Allowed

YPC Allowed vs. Jets

Ravens

109.3

116

4.2

5.5

Patriots

101.6

136

3.9

4.3

Dolphins

101.6

146

3.8

5.0

Bills

188.7

273

5.0

5.6

Vikings

102.4

155

3.9

4.8

Broncos

154.6

129

4.6

4.3

Packers

123.6

119

4.6

4.1

Noooooooooo!  Things were going so well up until now.  The Jets have dominated on the ground all season proving LeDainian Tomlinson doubters (see: me) embarrassingly wrong.  They've hit the century mark every game this season, and while they didn't meet season averages in the past two weeks, they still put up 148 yards and 4.2 yards per carry during that stretch.

The Jets have yet to be fully challenged defensively.  They've yet to face a top 10 run defense, and have played the two worst in the league (Broncos and Bills). 

Still, the Lions aren't even close to a top 10 defense.  There is some reason for hope, however, now that DeAndre Levy is healthy.  Upon his return, the Lions defense stepped up against the Redskins, holding them to 80 yards rushing.  After taking away Donovan McNabb's 36 yard scramble, the Skins only had 44 yards on 18 carries (2.4 a carry).  The Redskins running attack isn't exactly dynamic (24th overall), but one can hope, right?  Unfortunately, there's no metric for hope.  Jets +2.5

Miscellaneous

The Lions now have the second most penalties in the league, but the Jets are not far behind at 9th.  The Lions are at home and I think that will be enough of an advantage to even this out. Push.

Special teams could be very interesting.  The Lions and Jets rank 4th and 2nd respectively in kick return averages.  Looking at kick coverage, the two teams are again very close.  Despite last week's disaster the Lions are still 6th in kick coverage, while the Jets are slightly behind at 10th.  The only major difference is in punt returns, where the Lions rank 5th and the Jets rank 16th.  In what I expect to be a low scoring game, special teams could make a huge difference in this game.  I'd give the Lions a bigger advantage, but last week scares me.  Lions +1.

Finally, the turnover margin provides the last point of comparison.  The Jets have been especially careful with the ball, turning the ball over only seven times (3rd least in AFC).  They've also forced the fourth most turnovers in the AFC, leaving them with a +7 margin.  The Lions have forced the third most turnovers in the NFC, but are also somewhat careless with the football (NATE!), giving up the fifth most turnovers in the NFC.  Overall, the Lions have a +1 margin.  One turnover may be the difference in this game, and the stats say the Jets are the more likely team to force it.  Jets +1. 

Overall

So the Jets come out on top with a +2.5 advantage, which, as I mentioned last week, is a barely significant advantage.  I want to pick the Lions so badly in this game, but unfortunately the point in this column is to be as objective as possible. 

Luckily, for all of the Lions fans, the game isn't played on paper, because the Lions would've already lost.  But for the sake of objectivity, I'm forced to predict a Jets victory.  Lions 13 Jets 19.

Lions fans, I'm proud of you for making a sell-out.  One thing I never include in these previews is the advantage that the home crowd gives.  Lions fans: go out there, be loud, and make me wrong.  Nothing would make me happier.


This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Pride Of Detroit or its writers.

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