After four long weeks of pre-season NFL action, the end is finally in sight with a huge slate of Thursday contests. One of the more intriguing match-ups sees the upstart Buffalo Bills travelling to the Motor City to do battle with the Detroit Lions. Typically in Week 4 most coaches are adamant about sitting out and resting starters to best prepare them for the opening week of the season, however this game differs as both teams are expected to give their first-stringers a lot of snaps.
Detroit enters this contest looking pretty awful thus far in the pre-season. They squandered away many opportunities in their past outing in Oakland, and have yet to look in-sync on offense. Coach Jim Schwartz is aware of this and is likely why he’s giving some of his key starters added reps on Thursday nights.
Meanwhile, the Bills aren’t expected to match the Lions in terms of how deep their starters will go in this one. Coach Chan Gailey has said look for them to go a maximum of 10 plays, before giving way to their back-up options. Buffalo acquired former Seahawks quarterback Tarvaris Jackson earlier in the week, and look for him to get a long look against the Lions. However, entering a brand new offense with a bunch of new guys certainly won’t be an easy task, and it should be intriguing to see how these storylines all unfold Thursday evening.
Bills vs. Lions Spread and Betting Odds:
Buffalo Bills +4 (-110)
@ Detroit Lions -4 (-110)
Over 38 (-110)
Under 38 (-110)
Bills vs. Lions Pick:
The Lions remain highly motivated entering this contest as they’ve looked anything but stellar thus far in August. In front of their home crowd, in their final tune-up game before the regular season, the Lions are expecting a lot out of themselves, explaining why their starters should go longer than usual. Though Matt Stafford may not play as he nurses a slight hand injury, promising back-up Kellen Moore is expected to carry the load and show he can handle the rigors of NFL football. Moreover, running back Mikel Leshoure is expected to play the majority of the game in the backfield for the Lions. Leshoure is loaded with promise and potential, and is likely to be the starting back when he returns from suspension in Week 3. Once the Bills starters exit the contest, look for Leshoure to be able to find holes and exploit gaps in the Bills’ run-defense.
Expect the Bills offense to sputter as well in Detroit, as Jackson will be unable to get in a rhythm in his new surroundings. The Lions have a ferocious pass rush and should get to the Bills’ quarterback at will. It’s a tough situation for Tarvaris Jackson, but ultimately one that should play right into the hands of Detroit.
Expect an inspired outing from the Lions starters. This is their last true test before taking the field in the regular season, and their performance thus far hasn’t matched what they accomplished last season. Though it’s rare for teams to let their starters play extended minutes in Week 4, Coach Schwartz wants to get his team in a groove, and that’s what should happen Thursday night against Buffalo. Look for the Lions offense to be typically explosive, taking advantage of the back-ups and poor team depth of the Bills. Expect the Lions to end the pre-season with a bang, firing on all cylinders entering Week 1 of the regular season.
PICK: Lions -4 (-110)