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Previewing Washington: Can the Lions make it three in a row?

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How do the Lions match up against Washington?

NFL: Preseason-Detroit Lions at Washington Redskins Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Lions and Washington have had similar season so far. While the Lions started 1-3 on the year, Washington dropped its first two games of the season. Now, Washington is riding a four-game winning streak, while the Lions have a two-game streak of their own. Though neither team currently leads their respective division, both are riding a wave of optimism that will meet head-on at Ford Field on Sunday. Here’s a closer look at Washington.

Washington (4-2)

Schedule so far:

Week 1 - vs. Steelers - Lost, 16-38

Week 2 - vs. Cowboys - Lost, 23-27

Week 3 - at Giants - Won, 29-27

Week 4 - vs. Browns - Won, 31-20

Week 5 - at Ravens - Won, 16-10

Week 6 - vs. Eagles - Won, 27-10

Reasons the Lions should be optimistic:

The Detroit Lions offense has been rolling all year, whether they’ve gone up against solid defenses like the Eagles and Rams or against poor defenses like the Colts. Washington doesn’t have a particularly smothering defense. Football Outsiders ranks their unit as just 18th overall, and they’ve been especially bad against the run, ranking 31st. While that may not play into the Lions’ hands, it could give them an extra dimension on Sunday.

While there’s not much reason to be optimistic about the Lions defense, there is a chance the team re-signs Josh Bynes this week to help a struggling linebacker group. Additionally, Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins hasn’t exactly been the model of consistency. Detroit’s defense has been opportunistic late in games, and Cousins could very well give them the chance to pounce on a poorly thrown ball.

Reasons the Lions should be pessimistic:

The Lions defense has been absolutely awful all year and Washington has been one of the most efficient offenses as of late. Football Outsiders ranks them ninth overall, but it is their running game that carries the team. Running back Matt Jones leads the way with 433 rushing yards (ninth in NFL) at 4.9 a carry. Meanwhile, the Lions run defense is allowing 4.7 yards per carry, sixth worst in the NFL.

When the Lions have the ball, they’ll have to worry about Washington’s pass rush. They currently have the sixth-most sacks in the league with 16. Of those 16, 9.5 come from Trent Murphy and Ryan Kerrigan. Stafford might be on the run early and often.

Overall:

This has the makings of another Lions shootout. The outcome of the game may come down to which quarterback makes the most mistakes. While Cousins is certainly the quarterback more prone to a mistake right now, Washington’s defense is also more likely to force a mistake. Washington forced eight turnovers this year to Detroit’s four. However, Washington has also turned the ball over themselves eight times, while Detroit has done it just five times. In other words, this could be anyone’s ballgame.