The Detroit Lions return from the bye week still in search of their first win in 2021 for first-year head coach Dan Campbell. The Free Press writers have made their picks; will the Lions produce a stunner in the Steel City?
The Steelers have won four straight and have one of the best defenses in the NFL, but there are valid reasons to believe the winless Lions can get their first victory Sunday. Pittsburgh is coming off an emotional Monday night win over the Bears, playing on a short week, with three important conference games ahead, and does not have the type of high-powered offense that gives the Lions fits. The Lions are well-rested, coming off their bye and should get a lift from Decker’s return. I won’t go as far as predicting an upset here. The Lions have not played well enough for long enough stretches of time to think they will go on the road and beat a playoff contender. But this feels like a game that will be decided in the final minutes and maybe turn on one big mistake. Pick: Steelers 20, Lions 17.
They’ve had two weeks to prep. Taylor Decker is supposed to be back. Pittsburgh is a (relative) mess. So, why not? A win has to come sometime, right? Pick: Lions 19, Steelers 16.
I’m not a big fan of coach Dan Campbell taking part in offensive meetings. I get the optics of him wanting to look like he’s not just standing by as the Titanic goes down. But any improvement must come from the players. Coaches can’t be the saviors for this team. Maybe if the Steelers had beaten the Chicago Bears easily Monday night they might have overlooked the Lions. But not after a close game. The Lions extend their winless streak in Pittsburgh to 11 games, dating to 1955. But at least they avoid a blowout and look more competitive. Pick: Steelers 30, Lions 21
The Steelers are everything the Lions want to become: tough, physical, stable, well coached and well respected year after year. But the Lions are nowhere near that level. The Lions will play better than their disaster against the Eagles. Yeah, couldn’t get worse. But the Lions just don’t have enough, on either side of the ball, to even make this close. Pick: Steelers 27, Lions 19.