The Lions (6-3) just came off a big road win against a division rival to claim first place in the NFC North, and the Steelers (3-6) have been struggling this year.
However, the Steelers' run defense has been sorely lacking this year, and the Lions' ability to exploit that will be one of the keys to improving to 7-3.
Here are three things to watch in the Lions' game against the Steelers:
Reggie Bush needs to be productive
This is one of the keys every game for the Lions, but it's not just the fact Reggie Bush needs to be productive; it's where he needs to be productive.
Against Chicago last week, Bush rushed for 105 yards on 14 carries. When Bush ran the ball up the middle, he rushed for 85 yards on 10 carries. He ran right into the teeth of the Chicago defense, and the Bears had no answer for him.
Pittsburgh's run defense ranks 29th in the league allowing an average of 127.2 yards per game, something the Lions should be able to take advantage of. If Bush can establish himself in the middle of the field, that will open up play action for Matthew Stafford, and force the Steelers to put as many as eight guys in the box.
Stacking the box will open up the outside for Calvin Johnson, Brandon Pettigrew and Kris Durham, which will need all they help they can get against a veteran Steelers secondary.
Steelers secondary vs. Calvin Johnson
Although the Steelers aren't having the season they envisioned, the veteran secondary has been able to contain some of the league's best wide receivers.
A.J. Green, Brandon Marshall and Torrey Smith were each held under 65 yards receiving against the Steelers. Johnson has recorded at least one touchdown in his past three games, but it won't be an easy task with the likes of Ryan Clark, Troy Polamalu, Ike Taylor and Cortez Allen.
Johnson hasn't practiced all week, but insists he will play Sunday. The Lions better hope so because, as they've already shown in a 22-9 loss to the Green Bay Packers, this team isn't the same without Johnson.
Don't take Steelers for granted
As stated earlier, this game reeks of being a trap game. In recent years, the Lions haven't been familiar with being in a position of power and holding their own destiny. They cannot afford to take the Steelers lightly.
Struggling teams are more desperate, and that desperation can go a long way toward getting a win. Not to mention, the Steelers are just three games out of first place in the AFC North. They would have to go on a miraculous run to catch the Cincinnati Bengals, but we saw the Washington Redskins do that just a year ago in the NFC East.
The Steelers have a lot of good pieces, and if the Lions think this will be a cake walk, they will be sorely mistaken.
I like the Lions' chances in this game. Stafford and Johnson have been firing on all cylinders, and the running game has been clicking.
The Steelers' offensive line has allowed the second-most sacks with 36. Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley and the rest of the defensive front make Ben Roethlisberger's day a living nightmare.
Prediction: Lions win 31-24
Tom Mitsos is a Michigan native who covers the Detroit Lions for the Yahoo! Contributor Network. He also is a high school sports reporter at MLive Media Group. You can follow Tom on Twitter.
- American Football
- Sports & Recreation
- Detroit Lions
- Pittsburgh Steelers
- Reggie Bush
- Calvin Johnson