How healthy is Calvin Johnson? I saw some of the first half last week and he had a couple drops and did not look like his usual self.
Calvin is definitely not 100 percent healthy. His overall number of snaps was limited last week, and at some points the Lions seemed to be using him situationally. This could change this week considering Johnson went through practice on Wednesday, but I don't expect him to be 100 percent healthy by Sunday. As a result, his main role could once again be serving as a decoy more than anything.
The Bengals historically have trouble covering tight ends. How big of a boost has Joseph Fauria given the Lions and has he totally replaced Brandon Pettigrew?
Fauria and Pettigrew really don't play the same tight end position, if that makes sense. The Lions use Pettigrew as more of an every-down tight end. He can block when they run the ball and he's often targeted by Matthew Stafford as the Lions try to move the ball down the field. Fauria has really stepped in for Tony Scheffler, who remains out with a concussion. He's able to line up as a tight end and out wide as a receiver, and his snaps (and especially his targets) have mainly been limited to the red zone. I'd like to see more of him before the Lions get down near the 20-yard line, but he's certainly doing a great job in his current role of going up and getting the ball in the end zone.
Is Rashean Mathis going to play this week? How big of a loss would not having him at 100% be?
Mathis was able to practice on Wednesday, so it's looking like he may in fact be able to play on Sunday. If he can't go, rookie Darius Slay will step in for him. Slay has not been very good this season, and he was benched twice as a starter before Mathis replaced him. I don't necessarily think the drop-off would be huge if Mathis isn't fully healthy anyway, but Slay has been a liability on defense. He's getting better, but he's still got a long way to go.
What is one matchup you are confident in the Lions against the Bengals?
I'd have to go with the Lions' interior defensive line vs. Kyle Cook. I know the Bengals have a pretty highly thought of offensive line overall, but Cook has a -3.5 grade in pass blocking on Pro Football Focus. What's more, Andy Dalton has been sacked 13 times over the last four games. Between Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley, I would expect the Lions to have some success in getting to Dalton on Sunday, particularly with their defensive tackles.
What scares you about the Bengals?
A.J. Green vs. the Lions' cornerbacks, mainly. Chris Houston has been prone to giving up big plays this season, and as you already mentioned, Mathis may not play or may not be 100 percent this week. I could see Green having a pretty big game if the Bengals decide to air it out and test the Lions' secondary.
Thanks again to Sean, and check out his site for my answers to his questions.