Tune in at 1:00 PM ET as the Colts take on the Lions. Rob Sturney will be liveblogging for your enjoyment.
I'm Rob Sturney here with the Score's continuing coverage of the NFL. Today we have the surprising Colts versus the underwhelming Lions in Detroit. The Colts don't travel well, and a lot of folks are picking 4-7 Detroit over 7-4 Indianapolis.
We've got two very good passing offenses going head to head. In fact, Stafford is the pivot in the #1 passing offense in the league and Luck's Colts are ranked 7th.
Both teams have weak defensive backs, though the Lions' safeties are better.
The Colts have strong safety Zbikowski out with a knee or shin injury while Lefeged has a toe issue. The good news for Arians' defense is that cornerback Davis is back after a knee injury suffered in October.
If you're talking about receivers, you're talking about Megatron. Here's something: if Johnson gets 152 yards receiving today he'll beat Charlie Hennigan's 51-year old record of 612 catching yards in three yards. Let's not forget another wideout named Broyles and the tight end Pettigrew.
On the other side of the field, Luck might become the first #1 QB pick to win 8 games in his rookies year. He'll be throwing to Wayne, who leads the league in receptions (84) and needs 6 catches to move past Andre Reed (952 receptions) into 10th place on the all time NFL list.
Here's the skinny: the Lions have lost three straight and know their playoff hopes pretty much over if they lose this game. The Colts are in a wildcard spot right now after beating Buffalo 20-13 last week.
Here are the teams' rankings:
Lions: 1st passing offense, 24th rushing, 12th passing defense, 22nd rushing defense
Colts: 7th passing offense, 17th rushing, 19th passing defense, 20th rushing defense
In the Indy backfield, Brown and Ballard are sharing the load. Ballard, another Colt rookie, is a good coast to coast blocker. He leads his team with 118 carries and 427 yards.
Even though the Lions don't have as strong of a running game as the Colts, they have Leshoure - today with an iffy ankle - with 136 carries for 534 yards and 6 touchdowns.
What will the Colts have to do to win in Detroit? Not cough up the ball. They've got the 3rd worst turnover ratio in the league at -14. Sixteen of their 21 turnovers have come on the road. They'll have to protect Luck, who was sacked thrice by Mario Williams, which must have been a relief for everyone in Buffalo. Finally, they'll want to establish the running game to set up the passing game to Wayne and the excellent rookie Hilton, who became the first Colt to score a receiving touchdown and a punt return touchdown in a game.
Stafford and company will want to pick on that weakened secondary, set up Avril's sacks via Suh and Fairley's work and stop the run.
We've got the two top receivers in the league this season going head to head, and two of the oldest players in the league squaring off. Colts' kicker Vinatieri has been playing for 17 years. He's ninth in the league in field goals, his longest being 53 yards this season. Hanson, the Lions' kicker, has been playing for 20 years. He's 8th in the NFL in field goals, also with 53 yards as his season's long mark.
One fellow who won't be a target for Stafford today is the wideout Young. He was deactivated for last week's loss to Texas and is still in exile. Apparently, he does not get along with others. So with Burleson out with a broken leg and Young out of the loop, Thomas, Osgood and Robiskie will get routes.
I'm hoping for a shootout here. Stafford had 441 yards, going 31 for 61 last week in the loss to the Texans. Luck tossed 20 for 37 and 240 yards last week in the win over the Bills.
Okay, folks, we're ready to go. The Colts will kick off to Avery in the end zone.
Out the back it goes. Lions start from the 20.
Well, there you go. Stafford to Megatron on the right side. He struggles to a first down right off the bat.
DET 1st and 10 (DET 31): Lashoure tries to carry it through the middle. He gets a couple.
DET 2nd and 7: Stafford out of the gun looked for Lashoure out of the backfield, but the QB led him a little too much and Lashoure couldn't make the catch.
DET 3rd and 7: Stafford looked for Scheffler over the middle, but Freeman, 5th in the league with 101 tackles, breaks it up.
Harris the punter boots it to Hilton who calls fair catch at his 16.
Not a fantastic opening series for the Lions. Let's see what Luck can do.
Each of the Colts' seven wins have come by 7 points or less, and the teams they've beaten have a combined record of 31-46.
IND 1st and 10 (IND 16): Luck is SACKED by SUH!
Originally hired on to liveblog the Tour de France.
Wow. That's how you make a statement.
IND 2nd and 17: Luck tried a short pass to Avery. The ball is bumped up in the air volleyball style, but no one can make the snatch.
IND 3rd and 17: Luck hits Ballard with a screen pass on the left, but the back will be well short of the first down.
McAfee will punt. Logan starts at his 35 and makes it to the 42.
Three and out for both squads to start us off.
Over the last two seasons, the Lions are 2-9 versus teams with a winning record.
You're right, Doug! Man, I've had a lot of cough syrup . . .
DET 1st and 10: Leshoure gets the carry and found his progress impeded. He got one.
DET 2nd and 9: Stafford in the gun. He flings it to Johnson coming over the middle, but only gets a couple.