Here we go, the furthest reach of weekly journalism on this here website: Five things to watch in the Lions game.
I don’t mean to pick on the Lions, it does seem cruel. There’s a lot of hard-working people in the organization just trying to do their jobs well.
But it’s just remarkable that this rudderless franchise continues to flail away as it has for decades.
Obviously the biggest storyline looking ahead is if the team will retain coach Matt Patricia and general manager Bob Quinn this offseason.
There’s a reasonable argument to be made that a coach deserves three years to implement his program. But clearly, Patricia hasn’t shown signs of progress worthy of forming a strong argument for retaining him.
You can fall on either side of that argument, but my opinion on it is probably the most damning of all for the franchise.
Does it even matter?
Here are five things to watch as Tampa Bay visit the Lions (1 p.m., Fox, 760):
Say what you want about Jameis Winston, but the guy is electric.
Lions fans don’t see a lot of Tampa Bay games and for good reason.
But Tampa Bay’s quarterback will keep it exciting with impressive throws and then confound you with bad interceptions.
It should be thrilling to watch him play.
Penn State pals
Rookie cornerback Amani Oruwariye is expected to get his third straight start on the outside of the Detroit defense.
He could go toe-to-toe with former Penn State roommate Chris Godwin, who has been lighting it up in Year 3 in Tampa.
Ironically, it’s Oruwariye who is actually the Tampa native out of the two Nittany Lions. We’ll see what kind the familiarity between the pair could mean for the potential matchup.
There wasn’t all that much buzz when Ndamukong Suh made his return to Detroit last season as a member of the Los Angeles Rams.
Now with his fourth team in Tampa Bay, it’s safe to say Suh’s strong career hasn’t quite lived up to the transcendent potential he had coming out of Nebraska.
Will Ford Field fans be fired up to boo Suh?
It’s hard to get too worked up about it, as history has shown that Suh was probably right to leave, and the Lions were wise to let him go.
With starter Joe Dahl out at guard and tackle Rick Wagner out at tackle, a couple Lions’ reserves will get a chance to show if they can hack it.
Tyrell Crosby should start at right tackle. Against Shaq Barrett, the second-year lineman can continue to make his case for permanently replacing Wagner at the position next season.
A free agent after this season, Kenny Wiggins will get plenty of reps at guard in a tryout of sorts for the Lions and other teams across the league next year.
Could it be a cover?
According to Adam Thompson of bookies.com, the Lions just might have a chance to cover the spread on Sunday. Detroit has covered just once in its last eight games, but have covered 10 of the last 12 meetings with the woeful Buccaneers.
The Lions are 4-point home dogs at Ford Field, where they’re only 2-4 this season. However, the average margin of games is only 3.3 points in downtown Detroit.
Matt Schoch is a freelance writer.