The Detroit Lions had a strong start to their preseason, while the Washington Redskins stumbled out of the gate. Can Washington create a reversal this week and even out their early record?
What We Know About The Coaches
Detroit head coach Jim Caldwell is 6-11 in the preseason, 1-0 in this preseason after his team beat the New York Jets, 23-3, in game one last week. The Lions were not that impressive on offense, at least not in terms of their secondary and third-string players, but their defense was exceptionally good at every level, and the consistency of the team’s defense throughout the game indicates preparation by the coaching staff with every group of players.
Washington head coach Jay Gruden is 4-1 in the preseason, 1-0 in this preseason after the Redskins defeated the Cleveland Browns, 20-17, last week. The Redskins’ backups were very good. Similar to the Lions, the team fought through the whole game well, even as Gruden went down the depth chart in the attempt to get a feel for what he has on his roster. On a general level in terms of coaching in this year’s preseason, you’d have to rate it an even call.
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The Lions have an edge at starter, and in a second preseason game, the starter will play at least as much as in the first game on most occasions, if not one or two more. Matthew Stafford confidently led the Detroit offense down the field in his repetitions against the Jets. He looked smooth and unhurried, which is good news for the Lions. Washington starter Robert Griffin III did not look very crisp against Cleveland, completing just 4 of 8 passes and not being the kind of field general the Redskins will need him to be this season.
For the backups, though, the outlook is better for Washington. The Lions needed to see something out of Kellen Moore as a backup to Stafford, and what they saw against the Jets wasn’t good. Moore is clearly third behind Dan Orlovsky on the depth chart for Detroit. He will get more work in this game, but if he’s not improved, Washington could win this game late.
Detroit has a better starter, but starters don’t play much in preseason game number two. Take Washington in this category.
Team Depth & Rotations
The Redskins are really hurting here, especially at tight end. Niles Paul got knocked out for the season with an injury suffered against Cleveland. Jordan Reed and Logan Paulsen, the backup tight ends, are also hurt, so Washington will have a lot of limitations in terms of pass catchers. Detroit’s defense could feast on that.
The Lions suffered no big injuries against the Jets. They have some depth as Dan Orlovsky is a decent preseason quarterback and rookie runner Ameer Abdullah has looked great so far. The rest of their rotation will be defined by a bunch of player competitions, such as George Winn versus Zach Zenner at backup running back and Taylor Boggs versus Darren Keyton for backup center. This is where the Lions have a clear advantage.
Outlook & Pick
The Redskins are hurting in a few key areas, and Griffin took a pounding at quarterback last week against Cleveland. Detroit might not score much, but its defense should shut down Washington’s offense.
Pick: Lions: +2.5 at Bookmaker