This week, the Detroit Lions have a tiny bit of adversity to deal with coming off their Monday night coming out party against the Chicago Bears. First, they will be facing a short week of preparation for San Francisco. Second, the team will be without Justin Durant and Tony Scheffler, two key contributors who sustained concussions serious enough to keep them out of this week's lineup.
Jim Harbaugh's 4-1 49ers come calling to Ford Field, and they have been road warriors this season with a perfect 2-0 record away from Candlestick Park. After winning in hostile Philadelphia, the Detroit environment will need to work hard to faze them.
Here's five things that are important to watch as the Lions try and improve to 6-0:
Jim Harbaugh's Return To Michigan. Harbaugh, the one time standout quarterback for the University of Michigan, enters the state for the first time as a head coach. Moreover, he enters the state after briefly flirting with taking the Michigan head coaching job, but instead deciding on the NFL. How will Harbaugh be welcomed? What will he have to say about the experience? What will he think about the Lions? The quotes and questions should be interesting after the game, regardless if the Lions win or lose.
How Will The Lions Cope With A Short Week? It's something this franchise hasn't had to deal with in a while. Will the Lions come out rusty against San Francisco due to a short week of preparation and national hype? The 49ers are quietly good at 4-1, and if there is any lapse in preparation or energy, don't be surprised to see them take advantage.
The Lions' Running Game: If Once Was An Accident, Might Two Start A Trend? Jahvid Best had one of his best games on Monday night against the Chicago Bears, which feature a stout defensive front. Can Best continue to make a trend of good things happening on the ground, thus giving the Lions another potent weapon in their offensive arsenal? The stout 49er defense will prove to be another challenge. If he can get going again, it will do wonders for confidence.
Alex Smith. The San Francisco quarterback hasn't quite lived up to top pick expectations, but he is having a great start to 2011. So far, he's thrown seven touchdowns to only one interception. He'll miss Josh Morgan, who is out for the year after an injury this week. How will Smith fare against Detroit's rejuvenated defense? Most importantly, will he handle the pass rush and the noise of Ford Field? He's been sacked 14 times this season already, with three fumbles. Protection will need to be way better for Smith to survive.
Will Other Lions' Receivers Get In On The Touchdown Fun? The first five weeks of the season has been the Calvin Johnson show, which is fantastic for the offense. Nate Burleson and Titus Young have done enough to keep chains moving, but their hard work hasn't paid off in touchdowns just yet. Will these guys get in on the Lions' end zone explosion?
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