It's all about the AFC North for the Lions these days, apparently. Last week, they went on the road and beat the Cleveland Browns soundly behind three touchdowns from Joseph Fauria. Now, the Lions are back at home, and the team is looking healthier as well. Calvin Johnson is playing, and hopefully will be at optimal capacity. Most of the key players are good to go. However, this week the Lions face the Cincinnati Bengals, a tougher opponent than the Browns. After all, Brandon Weeden isn't their quarterback.
The Bengals look like a playoff team, and they may win the AFC North this year. They have talent on both sides of the ball. The one real question they have is Andy Dalton, their quarterback. He's not bad though. He's just mediocre, enough to make him a concern in terms of Cincinnati's Super Bowl potential, but not enough to completely hold this team back.
Cincy has a couple of good running backs that do different things, and Detroit has had some issues against the run so far. The loss of Jason Jones certainly didn't help that, and Nick Fairley's play could improve as well. The Bengals also have a great receiver in A.J. Green. So, you can't just focus on the run and try and make Dalton beat you. You really have to try and stop the run and shut down Green, and that is a lot to ask of any defense, let alone Detroit's. Here's hoping the Lions can get after Dalton.
Meanwhile, the Bengals are tough on defense too. Their pass rush is excellent, and they have Geno Atkins at defensive tackle, perhaps the only defensive tackle in the league better than Ndamukong Suh. However, the Lions' offense has looked dynamic when they have all their pieces in place. Matthew Stafford is good at avoiding sacks, and the Detroit offensive line has been good as well. Big days from Reggie Bush and Megatron would be nice, perhaps even critical.
This is a big game for both teams. The winner moves to 5-2 on the season. Both teams, truly, have the chance to win their division. I think the Bengals are the slightly better team, but the Lions are at home. This game feels like a tossup to me. If Johnson isn't quite as healthy as I hope, that could make the difference. However, for now, I shall assume all is well for Johnson and the Lions, and I will give this game to Detroit. Final Prediction: Lions 24, Bengals 21