Lions +3 over Steelers (3 unit Max Preseason Play)
While he didn’t play much in preseason football, it will still be interesting to see how the Lions plan adjust to life without Calvin Johnson this year. They added Marvin Jones and Anquan Boldin in the offseason and moved Golden Tate to the number one role and will look to rely on strong run game with a talented backfield behind a younger offensive line.
The Steelers were obviously devastated by injury last season and will be looking to get out of the pre-season as unscathed as possible. Mike Tomlin has never really put a major emphasis on the preseason especially in current years, going 2-7 the past two. He also lost the first game of the preseason four years in a row, all pretty big blowouts.
Detroit is the opposite, Caldwell puts an emphasis on winning in the preseason and has won the first game by convincing margin the first two years in Detroit. Also interesting to note Detroit has actually won 10 opening pre-season games in a row. Although I am not a fan of most meaningless trends, that is one that I do like to see.
By all accounts the Detroit offense has looked good in training camp. They have a deep backfield competing for starting roles and will be eager to impress.
The Steelers are a little bit depleted on the defensive side and that depth will be tested in a game during which so many different players see the field. And again, I think Tomlin worries about injury so he may be even more conservative tonight as he has proven time and again he could care less about preseason.
I don’t look for the Steelers to play their starters much at all in this game as they know what they have on offense. However, the Lions have a lot of new pieces to work in. It wouldn’t surprise me to see some of their first string play well into the first half, including the starting O-line.
The Lions have gone 3-1 in each of their last three preseasons and have actually had a winning record since 2006 (including two 4-0 seasons) so you have to think it’s an organizational priority to win these games as well.
Also remember the preseason last year where Landry Jones looked clueless? I like the Lions backup QB’s of Orlosky and rookie Jake Rudock a lot more than Landry Jones and ancient Bruce Gradkowski.
There’s lots of public money on the Steelers like their always is which is good to see, and the Lions probably won’t even need the 3 points in this one, but we will be happy to take them