The Detroit Lions and Washington Redskins both had successful starts to the 2015 preseason, winning their first exhibition games. Only one team can begin the year 2-0, since they are set to meet on Thursday night in Week 2 of the preseason.
The Detroit Lions played better than almost any other NFL team in Week 1 of the preseason. In their first game since losing on Wild Card Weekend last season, the Lions nearly shut out the New York Jets, winning 23-3. Detroit’s starters and backups played well, as Matthew Stafford led the team on an opening playoff drive and the Lions outscored the Jets 13-0 in the second half.
Stafford is firmly entrenched as the team’s top quarterback, but it’s still unknown who will be his backup. Kellen Moore played with the second-team offense a week ago, completing just nine of his 17 pass attempts and throwing an interception. Dan Orlovsky had a 106.6 passer rating against New York, and he could seize control of the competition when he gets to come in after Stafford sits against Washington.
Ameer Abdullah was the biggest bright spot last week, rushing seven times for 67 yards. The running back was one of the top performers in college football last season, and he had an impressive 45-yard run against the Jets. Abdullah didn’t participate in most of the team drills on Tuesday, but head coach Jim Caldwell said it wasn’t injury-related, and the rookie is expected back in the lineup on Thursday.
On defense, the Lions will be missing their big offseason acquisition for a second straight game. Haloti Ngata, who is set to replace Ndamukong Suh at defensive tackle, is still dealing with a hamstring injury. With Detroit’s defensive line not at full strength, the Jets were able to rush for 67 yards on their first possession.
Alfred Morris will look to take advantage of Ngata’s absence. He rushed for 42 yards on eight carries in Washington’s 20-17 win over the Cleveland Browns in their preseason opener.
Robert Griffin III made headlines this week after calling himself the NFL’s best quarterback. While he claims his words were taken out of context, the quarterback is looking to prove that he can play like he did when he took the Redskins to the playoffs as a rookie. He went four-of-eight for 36 yards last week, and he should see more time on the field on Thursday.
Kirk Cousins was Washington’s standout performer on offense, completing 12 of his 14 attempts for 154 yards. It’s a good sign for the Redskins, who were without Griffin for nine games over the last two years.
But the best part of Washington’s victory was their defensive effort. The Redskins allowed the Browns to average just 3.1 yards per play, which marked their best preseason performance in almost a decade. It was a stark turnaround for the Redskins, considering only two teams allowed more points than Washington in the 2014 season.
The Redskins are favored against the Lions, who have been dominant in recent preseasons. Detroit has won 23 of their last 29 exhibition games.
Start Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
TV Channel: FOX 2 (Detroit) and NBC 4 (Washington)
Betting Line: Washington -2.5
Over/ Under: 40 points (vegasinsider.com)