Free Press sports writers offer their predictions for the Detroit Lions‘ game against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday in Ohio:
Boyle won’t have it easy in what should be the first start of his career, playing in cold, rainy conditions against one of the best pass rushes in the NFL. He noted Friday the Lions have two first-round offensive tackles to help keep him clean, and while that should help, this isn’t a particularly good matchup for the Lions in other areas. They will have their hands full with Nick Chubb and the Browns’ offensive line, and Cleveland seems in line for a bounce-back performance coming off its most lopsided loss of the year. I don’t expect the Lions to be able to run the ball nearly as well as they did last week, and for that reason, I don’t expect this game to be nearly as close. The pick: Browns 31, Lions 17.
Both teams’ quarterbacks are banged up, which is enough to throw any prediction into a tailspin. Playing at home should make enough of a difference for Cleveland, but the Lions have to feel good about what they did to pull out a tie in Pittsburgh. If they can follow anything close to last week’s Patriots plan that led to a 45-7 shellacking of the Browns, they can win this game. Hey, the Lions tried to be the Patriots once. Maybe they can do it again. The pick: Lions 18, Browns 16.
This Lions team might stink. It might lose every time you turn around. But somehow, it has remained, well, interesting. It has found interesting ways to lose — boink. Off the cross bar. It has found interesting ways not to win — what? A tie? Seriously? And while the defense has improved, the offense? Ugh. Not so much. I’m just not sure when this team might win. The pick: Browns 28, Lions 20.
The Browns are struggling. They were embarrassed Sunday against New England. But these are the Lions, the tonic even struggling teams welcome. If Tim Boyle starts in place of Jared Goff, he could juice the offense for a bit, just not enough. The pick: Browns 23, Lions 16.