Five things to know as Lions prepare to face Browns

You know the Lions are in bad shape when the best thing that can be said is they haven’t lost a game in November. First they had a bye week, then last Sunday they tied with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Still looking for their first win, the Lions (0-8-1) face the Browns (5-5) on Sunday in Cleveland. The Browns are coming off a 45-7 loss to the Patriots.

Coach Dan Campbell said the team had a good week of practice.

“There again, we know this is an opponent that’s going to be ready to go. They’re back home, very talented. So we’ve got to be ready, but I like where we’re at right now,’’ Campbell said on Friday.

Five things to know:

1. Quarterback Tim Boyle is expected to get his first career start with Jared Goff listed as doubtful with an oblique injury. Boyle has been on injured reserve since he underwent surgery for a broken thumb in the preseason. He spent the past two seasons in Green Bay backing up Aaron Rodgers. He’s ready to prove himself. “Opportunities, especially in the NFL, come very few times unfortunately, but that’s the beauty of the NFL. It’s so competitive. It’s been a long journey, just kind of reminiscing on my story of starting football when I was six years old and here I am as a 27-year-old still blessed to have this opportunity,’’ Boyle said.” it really is. It’s about preparation and always staying ready. I’ll be ready to go.”

2. The Lions signed rookie kicker Riley Patterson from the Patriots practice squad after Ryan Santoso missed a 48-yard game-winning field goal in overtime and an extra point earlier in the game at the Steelers. Austin Seibert will miss at least two more games.

3. After a bit of a scare this week with an elbow injury, left tackle Taylor Decker should be ready to go for his second straight start. He’s officially listed as questionable. “I think he’s good. I think it was not as bad as we thought it could be. So, I think it is – I think we’re fine. I think he’s going to be good to go. Look, he’s tough, man. He’s going to handle this well. He got it checked out and should be good,’’ Campbell said.

4. The defense will be tested by Browns’ running back Nick Chubb. “I would say it’s very similar to talking about Najee Harris last week. This team, they’ll try to run this offense through Chubb,’’ Campbell said. “I think he’s a special player. I think he’s – if there is such a thing as being underrated, he is maybe one of these underrated backs in the League. You can argue he’s the best or top two or something. I just think this guy is – he is, he is a special back. And so, we know they’re going to give him the ball, he’s going to carry the load.’’ Chubb is averaging 103 rushing yards per game and 6.0 yards per carry. 

5. While the Lions had to settle for a tie a week ago, there were good signs with the defense (after the first quarter) and the run game which finished with 229 yards. Campbell would like to see the team build on that. “You’d like to think that it’s something that we can continue to do that – there is something to be said about that recipe giving you the best chance to have success. I bring this up again, our defense came up with turnovers, too,’’ Campbell said. “That’s got to be very much a part of this. We have to have some turnovers and we’ve got to protect the football just like we did last week offensively. That’s as big of a part as anything is in all of this.”

INJURY UPDATE: OLB Trey Flowers (knee), RB Jermar Jefferson (knee/ankle) and T Matt Nelson (ankle) will not play.

PREDICTION: Browns 27, Lions 14

Five things to know about Lions’ tie with Steelers

Well, at least the Lions won’t finish the season 0-17.

In the strangest of strange games the Lions and Steelers tied at 16-16 after a scoreless overtime in Pittsburgh on Sunday. Detroit now owns an 0-8-1 record.

The Lions best chance to win it in overtime was blown when kicker Ryan Santoso was not even close on a 48-yard field goal attempt.

The silver lining was that the running game finished with 229 yards.

On the other hand, quarterback Jared Goff played possibly his worst game this season. He appeared to be injured in the first half, but stayed in the game. Usually an effective running game can open up the pass game, but that did not happen on Sunday. 

“Like I told the guys, I was upset we didn’t win but I was also proud of them because we put ourselves in position to win that game in overtime, it didn’t work out, then our defense has to go back and take the field,’’ coach Dan Campbell said. “They’re driving and we force the turnover which I thought was big and that kept us from losing is what it did. We want to win, looking for our first win but I know this, we were better than we were two weeks ago.’’

If you’ve forgotten — or wiped it out of your memory — two weeks ago the Lions lost 44-6 to the Eagles and had to chew on that debacle during the bye week.

Five things to know about Sunday’s tie:

1. Campbell said on the sidelines they discussed Goff’s ability to play with his injury. “We all felt like he was good — he was good enough to go. … We all felt like he was good enough to stay in there, so that’s why we stuck with him,’’ the coach said. Goff finished 14 of 25 for 114 yards and was sacked four times.  Was there a way to get the ball to tight end T.J. Hockenson. It’s unexplainable that he didn’t have a single catch and just one target.

2. Much of the run game was on the shoulders of D’Andre Swift with Jamaal Williams out with an injury to start the game and Jermar Jefferson forced out after he was injured on his 28-yard touchdown run. Swift carried 33 times for 130 yards (3.9 yards per carry) and caught three passes for 5 yards. Godwin Igwebuike came up big with a 42-yard touchdown run. It was Swift who did all the dirty work, though. 

3. On the first possession the Steelers took the ball downfield with ease because the Lions secondary looked like they weren’t quite ready to go. The defense redeemed itself after that drive to finish the first half but there were still too many errors and penalties.

4. The tie can’t be all pinned on Santoso but the Lions really missed kicker Austin Seibert who is out with a hip injury. Santoso also missed an extra point which was costly. Other than that, special teams had a decent day with solid returns. Igwebuike had a 29-yard kick return and Igwebuike returned a punt 48 yards. 

5. After the loss two weeks ago, Campbell and the coaches examined the first half of the season. Apparently one of their decisions was to give Campbell more involvement on game day in the offense. He was the one communicating with Goff through the headphones although Anthony Lynn, the offensive coordinator, was also involved. Another change that seemed to work was putting offensive lineman Matt Nelson in at tight end to provide extra protection. It was a move that worked well, but Nelson was injured in the first half and missed the rest of the game. 

Up next: Lions (0-8-1) at Cleveland on Sunday, Nov. 21. The Browns (5-5) lost 45-7 to the Patriots on Sunday.

(Photo courtesy of the Detroit Lions)

Five things to know as winless Lions face the Steelers

Rested and ready after a bye week, the Lions continue the quest for their first win of the season on Sunday at Pittsburgh.

The Steelers (5-3) have won four straight and are 7.5 point favorites.

If you rate losses, the Lions (0-8) are coming off their worst of the season – that ugly 44-6 shellacking by the Eagles.

 “We put that game to bed and tried to put most of that to bed before the bye as to what we need to clean up, what we really need to work on,’’ coach Dan Campbell said. “Here we go and now all of the focus has been on this game and where we’re at. These guys are coming off a bye. I thought they came out and practiced well, practiced hard, but there again, we’ve got another game and you’ve got to go out and execute.”

Here are five things to watch.

1. The Lions claimed wide receiver Josh Reynolds off waivers this week. It was definitely a position of weakness so it seems like a smart move. It’s not a certainty he will play at Pittsburgh since he is still learning the offense. “Look, we’re just trying to get him up to speed as fast as possible. Anything is on the table right now, and I think he’s a pretty sharp guy,’’ Campbell said. “It will just be how much we feel and he feels comfortable as to whether we do it or not.” He will wear No. 8.

2. Taylor Decker could return after being out after finger surgery. He’s officially listed as questionable. Campbell said on Friday that there’s more than a 50-percent chance he’ll go. It’s uncertain if he could play the entire game but Campbell said he’s in very good shape and if anyone could do it, it would be him. Decker’s leadership has been missed. “It’s all encompassing because not only is he a talented player, he’s big, he’s long, he’s got really good feet, but he is, he’s smart. He’s very smart. He’s a student of the game, he gets it, he’s done it for a while,’’ Campbell said. “And so, just that level of experience too with the talent sure does – it helps.” If he plays, Decker  will start at left tackle and rookie Penei Sewell will move back to right tackle where he started the season. 

3. One of the Lions’ offense’s many issues has been in the red zone. They’re ranked 30th in the NFL with 50-percent effectiveness. Campbell said they’ve been working on fundamentals and trick plays. “You certainly need to do what you feel like you do well or can do well with your personnel. But at the same time, there again, you start – you go too far that way and then you forget about this rush or the mismatch in the run game one way or another,’’ Campbell said. “That will bite you. I know I’m speaking out of both sides of my mouth, but it is both. You’ve got to be aware of both.”

4. Kicker Austin Seibert (right hip) is officially out for the game as is running back Jamaal Williams. Injuries have been an issue all season long for this bunch.

5. Big Ben Roethlisberger may be 39 years old but he’s been playing well so the defense has to be prepared. “He gets rid of the ball quickly and he can still make those downfield throws, those go throws, up and down, back shoulder, and when he’s in the red zone, he’s still as dangerous as he’s ever been,’’ Campbell said. “It’s even like what happened to us in preseason, these back shoulder throws to the tight end. Look, he can still do that stuff. He’s just not quite as mobile as he once was in the pocket. But look, it’s problematic and I still think that you’ve got to find a way to make these guys as one dimensional as possible. I think if you can do that and close the pocket in a little bit, at least you help your odds is the best way to say that.’’
PREDICTION: Steelers 42, Lions 27.