I had a chance to trade questions with Max DeMara at Lions101. Below are his answers to my questions.
Often there is debate about which defensive front is more formidable, the Lions or the Bengals. Personally I think Suh is the poor mans Geno Atkins (I kid). Whats your thoughts on the similarities of the units and the differences?
There are plenty of similarities between the teams, especially along the defensive line. Cincinnati may have the best front four in the league, because all of their lineman play within their roles extremely well which lends to collective success. This year, we're seeing the Lions finally get to that point as Suh matures, Nick Fairley improves and Ziggy Ansah and Willie Young develop. It's not unlike what the Bengals have with Atkins, Domata Peko (a personal favorite of mine as a fellow Michigan State Spartan) Carlos Dunlap and Michael Johnson. As a result, the teams are similar up front with generating pressure and each possess an elite ability to force turnovers. On the back end, I believe the Bengals do have a distinct advantage with Dre Kirkpatrick, Leon Hall, Taylor Mays and company. There's plenty of quality depth there, and that's one thing Detroit is still trying to build towards. We've seen leaks at times in the secondary, despite the important addition of Glover Quin and the relative health of the group compared with year's past.
We are both 4-2 and we both have an embarrassing loss on the roster (Cardinals/Browns). We both have an outstanding talent at wide receiver, a traveling running back and a strong defensive front. Are we similar teams? What sets these two teams apart in your eyes?
There's no question Detroit and Cincinnati are very similar teams on defense like we covered above. Offensively, in addition to all you mentioned, both teams also have strong armed Texas quarterbacks in Matthew Stafford and Andy Dalton, who are capable of winning or losing a game on their own. Sometimes, this causes the media to have field days with each of their performances, which is often silly given it could be argued each is the best quarterback from their respective draft class. The major difference between the teams overall is Marvin Lewis and Mike Zimmer. As maligned as Lewis has been, I believe his defensive coaching is still good for two wins a season on its own, and Zimmer remains a rising star. A good example of their effect this year is the New England game. Jim Schwartz has that question mark hanging over him, as sometimes him and his staff find ways to lose big games instead of win them. We're seeing Schwartz evolve a bit (he made nice adjustments to aid in road wins against Washington and Cleveland) but until he is able to win consistently, the questions will linger. Schwartz and company probably have to make the playoffs and grab some statement making victories to survive beyond 2013. They're on the right track thus far, but more is still needed.
Give me your prediction for Sunday.
It's so tough to win on the road in the NFL. For whatever reason, the Lions seem to be a very different team at Ford Field through two games this season both offensively and defensively. Against Minnesota and Chicago, they looked borderline elite. It's hard for me to see that changing, even though the Bengals will pose the biggest test thus far. The Lions pull away in the second half and win by a touchdown in a thriller. Detroit 27, Cincinnati 20.