So how can I compare the Ravens & Broncos game to some things the Lions expect to do and expect to face this season? Yes, these teams have plenty of differences than the Lions. But there are some similarities and trends the Lions themselves may follow. For example:
- Uptempo Offenses - The Ravens' offense and the Broncos' offense combined for something like 144 plays called, a new NFL regular season record. I think the Broncos got off around 60 plays while the Ravens got in something like 80 plays. With many teams (with the Lions also in that group) this year expected to increase their play execution tempo this season, be on the lookout for a much more exciting NFL. I expect passing yards, attempts, & completions records to be shattered this year, with the Lions possibly locking up some individual and team records in that regard. These offenses also call for getting the ball out quicker (some would say ideally in 2.5 seconds or less). This tends to help the offensive line's pass blocking success, especially if an offensive line has some weaknesses in pass-pro. With Stafford having a quick release and Linehan calling in plays fast, expect this to assist our offensive line & cover up certain deficiencies that come with a revamped offensive line.
- Defenses vs. Uptempo Offenses - As opposing defenses covering uptempo offense get into better shape throughout the season, we may see a higher rate of passes defensed (the Broncos had 14 yesterday) and interceptions. And even though, uptempo offenses definitely help an offense out especially early in a game wearing out defenses faster, expect it to work as a double-edged sword as O-Linemen & WRs will get tired as games go on. Expect this to lead to QB sacks & more QB pressures (the Broncos had 4 sacks & 8 QB hits; the Ravens had 3 sacks & 7 QB hits) for the Lions defense in the 2nd-4th quarters of games when uptempo offenses they face begin to fatigue.
- Lions RB, WR & TE Looks - Let me first acknowledge that the Broncos of course have more weapons than us, but the Ravens don't haha. With that said, we saw the Broncos throw many short & intermediate routes as the Ravens would not allow any deep plays. That was fine with Peyton Manning as he threw 7 TD passes. I don't really expect Stafford to throw that many TDs in a single game this season, but I expect our WRs & TEs to get a mix of coverages that the Broncos' offense and Ravens' offense saw. When Demaryius Thomas was getting double teamed or mirrored by CB L. Webb, it opened up underneath routes with single coverage or a busted no coverage for Wes Welker. So when Calvin Johnson is being draped, expect things to look good for Reggie Bush, Burleson, Broyles, & Patrick Edwards (especially if our guys can handle single coverage in the flats & the occasional bubble screen). When the defensive attention shifted to Welker early, it opened up the field for Julius Thomas. Or when the attention focused on J. Thomas, it opened things up for Welker again. When the coverage keyed in on Welker later, it opened things up for Demaryius Thomas. These game situations may be similar in Lions games if we don't have a drops issue like the Ravens did where they had 5 TE drops on 17 TE targets.
- Preseason habits followed these teams into the regular season - I implore the hardcore fans to go back and look to see if you can find which habits/trends the Broncos & Ravens had in the preseason. You'll notice some definitely followed them into this first game.
With all of that said, I hope this season will be better than what most of us have expected to this point. I'm sure looking out for these things during the season will definitely enhance your Lions viewing experience at the very least.