Preview: Lions (3-10) at Buccaneers (8-5)


Tim Twentyman / The Detroit News

Lions (3-10) at Buccaneers (8-5)

1 p.m. SundayTV: FoxRadio: WXYT

Lions player to watch Ndamukong Suh

The rookie defensive tackle has become one of the most feared defensive linemen in the league.

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Suh leads the Lions, rookies and defensive tackles with eight sacks. His 52 tackles are fourth-best among defensive tackles.

Suh’s a player teams are having to scheme against and that extra attention is allowing teammates to make plays.

Through Week 14, the Lions are tied for eighth in the NFL with 25 takeaways and also are among the top 10 in sacks and QB pressures.

The Bucs are battling through injuries on their offense line, and if Suh can disrupt their backfield, the Lions have a chance to break their 26-game road losing streak.

Buccaneers player to watch Josh Freeman

Since he made his first NFL start in Week 9 as a rookie last season, Freeman has been one of the hottest young quarterbacks.

He’s led the youngest team in the league (average age of 25 years, 190 days) to an 8-5 record and into playoff contention.

Freeman is completing nearly 60 percent of his passes with 17 touchdowns and six interceptions.

And he’s been good in the clutch: Seven of Freeman’s 11 career victories have been fourth-quarter or overtime comeback wins, including five this season.

“There’s a reason he got drafted in the first round,” Lions coach Jim Schwartz said.

He has a quarterback rating of 94.3 in the fourth quarter this season, second only to Eagles quarterback Michael Vick (109.4) among NFC quarterbacks.

“There’s a reason he got drafted in the first round,” said Lions coach Jim Schwartz of Freeman. “There’s a reason he’s playing well right now. He’s big, he’s strong, he’s got a good arm, can make all the throws, has good leadership qualities.”

Lions’ biggest advantage Running football

The Lions are coming off their best rushing performance of the season with 190 yards (4.6 average) in their 7-3 victory over the Packers last week.

“We got contributions from a lot of different people,” Schwartz said.

The Lions hope to continue that production against the Bucs, who ranks 27th against the run, allowing 133 yards per game.

The Bucs have allowed 97 rushing first downs. The league average is 78.

The Lions had seven different players carry the ball at least once against the Packers and four players finished with more than 30 yards rushing.

With their starting quarterback situation still up in the air, the Lions offense could use another successful rushing attack.

Lions’ biggest problem Second-half offense

The Bucs defense has given up the fourth-fewest second-half points this season and has five second-half shutouts.

The Bucs are tied for the third-most interceptions (18) in the league and rank seventh in opponent passer rating (77.5).

Meanwhile, the Lions offense has sputtered as of late in the second half. In their last four games, the Lions have scored 26 in the second half.

The Lions’ inability to put touchdowns on the board late in games has cost them a number of times this season.

ttwentyman@detnews.com

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