It's no secret that Tebow is more of a threat in the run game than he is to pick a defense apart from the pocket. So the key for a Detroit victory this Sunday? Dare Tebow to be a pocket passer.
Detroit's defensive line is arguably the team's biggest strength; so one may question my integrity when suggesting to put Cliff Avril, Lawrence Jackson and Kyle Vanden Bosch into spy mode on some snaps against Denver.
The "Wide Nine" that Detroit runs so well isn't simply telling their ends to shade the offensive tackles, pin their ears back and go. Gunter Cunningham runs a more sophisticated version of the "just go kick their ass" Wide Nine we've spotted around the league for a few years now.
Still, the basis of the Lions' scheme is to send the ends regularly and rely on the linebackers to fill their gaps.
In Week 8, Detroit could win easily by playing a surprisingly, more reserved defensive scheme—not by getting away from the Wide Nine altogether, but by confusing a novice quarterback in Tebow just enough to force him to make an extra dumb decision or two with his arm.
The 49ers and Falcons killed the Lions on trap and draw plays the previous two weeks, which essentially the Wide Nine is the most susceptible to. They executed this by running the ball right at the Lions' big bodies of Avril, Vanden Bosch, Suh, Fairley, Hill and Williams (as they rushed by) then making one linebacker miss before getting into the secondary.
Look for Denver to go to Tebow on quarterback-draw plays at least five times in this matchup, with ample traps to Knowshon Moreno mixed in as well. If the Lions stubbornly send the edge rushers, Denver would be wise to include a speed option or two for Tebow in their offensive arsenal for Sunday.
The good news for Detroit is without McGahee, the Broncos undoubtedly will struggle to run the as effectively between the tackles.
Matthew Stafford is still questionable for this matchup, so the Lions can ill afford to get into a game where Denver maintains control of possession for large chunks of the game. The high-powered offense has been fluttering of late anyway, therefore the defense needs to clench this winnable game for Detroit.
Make Tebow beat you with his arm and sacrifice a few sacks from the defensive line on the stat sheet for a win in the standings. It's a simple strategy, but one that if executed, could snap the Lions two-game losing streak. Nobody wants to see them drop three straight and hear all the bandwagon fans and media types start the "same old Lions" talk.
Bottom line: If Detroit's "Silver Crush" stays at home, the nation's crush on this young, talented team will be revived.