Thursday Games Outlook

Since we are running on a short week there is a lot of projecting without too much to go on practice wise.

James Starks is officially a game time decision after being limited in practice. Given how he had to get helped off the field, I can’t see him testing the knee on only three days rest. Despite his status, don’t expect him to start. That leaves Ryan Grant as the primary ball carrier who has been very ineffective all season. The Lions are 5th against the pass and 27th vs. the run but I have not seen anything from Grant to warrant him producing in this game. Expect Aaron Rodgers to have a healthy amount of passes and test the mettle of the Lions pass defense. With Greg Jennings a bit hobbled, we could see another 7 target day for Jordy Nelson who torched the Bucs for 123 yards and 2 scores.

Kevin Smith returned to the Lions with a monster performance Sunday and now faces the Packers 12th ranked rush defense which allowed Legarrette Blount 107 yards and a score last week. Keep in mind Blount racked up 54 yards on one touch so there really won’t be too much room for Smith. Where he will help is in the screen game which got the Lions back on track. The Lions depend on the screen and was why they were off to a 5-0 start with Best. They have struggled since, but Smith’s play has energized them. The Packers 31st secondary will have their hands full with Megatron and the Tight Ends so Smith should put up solid numbers. It looks like Schefflerand Pettigrew will continue a week by week time share, but Scheffler has more upside since Stafford trusts him in the red zone.

With Gerald Sensabaugh and Mike Jenkins out against the Fins, Matt Moore could have another solid day against the Cowboys 13th ranked pass defense. The key to the game will be how effective Reggie Bush and Daniel Thomas are against the Boys solid rush defense which is allowing about 101 YPG rushing. The Dolphins are 1-4 on the road this season and Bush only has one touchdown in those 5 games. That one was in the KC blowout where everyone seemed to be in on the action.

The Cowboys once again took to the air last week against Washington where Romo attempted 37 passes and finished with 292 yards with 2 scores. Miami has the 25th ranked pass defense, but has played light out the last three games. Miami has allowed no more than 9 points in a game during that span, while the Cowboys have scored no less than 23 points their last three games. Something has got to give and it will be the Miami secondary. Demarco Murray will be up against the Dolphins 7th ranked rush defense and his 25 touches last week should come down as Felix Jones works his way back in. Dez Bryant and Laurent Robinson should each see plenty of targets and be the main factors in the game along with Jason Witten.

Ray Rice has his work cut out for him against the 49ers top ranked rush defense allowing only 73 YPG. The way to beat the Niners is through the air so look for Joe Flacco to be active this week in the Harbaugh bowl. Flacco has thrown 4 touchdowns in his last three games with no less than 255 yards passing. Anquan Boldin has only 3 receptions the last three games as teams have focused more on him. He did catch a touchdown last week, but Torrey Smith has been the far more active one. Smith has 14 catches with 2 touchdowns his last three, including that 165 yard game on Sunday against the Bengals. Expect Smith and Ed Dickson be heavily targeted this week.

Frank Gore will be resting his sore knee this week after being limited in Monday and Tuesday’s practices. Gore faces the 5th ranked Ravens rush defense which will have Ray Lewis back on the field. The Niners will most likely take to the air against the Ravens and will try to get Vernon Davis involved early again. Davis had 5 receptions for 67 yards and a score last week and should find some mismatches against the Ravens linebackers who do not have the speed to keep up with him. The question here is who will step up whileMichael Crabtree is forced to contend with Ed Reed and Lardarius Webb? Braylon Edwards has been too fickle and to banged up to provide any consistency, and the Ravens will be able to keep Crabtree in check.

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