Following a narrow loss in their preseason opener, can the Detroit Lions get an exhibition victory this Saturday?
The Lions will hit the road to Heinz Field face the Pittsburgh Steelers at 7:30 p.m. ET.
With Pittsburgh expected to play some of their top stars, will the Lions be able to hang?
Steelers vs. Lions: Oddsmakers backing Pittsburgh
Coming off a 16-15 loss at home last week to the Buffalo Bills, oddsmakers don’t have much hope for Detroit this weekend.
Across the board, the Lions opened as a 5.5-point road underdog against Pittsburgh. The spread is currently .
The over/under total for the game is largely listed at 37.5 points. Only DraftKings Sportsbook had the total listed at 38 points as of Wednesday afternoon.
Pittsburgh is 2-0 this preseason and has covered the spread in both victories. The Steelers beat the Dallas Cowboys 16-3 in the Hall of Fame Game, then bested the Philadelphia Eagles 24-16 on the road last week.
Detroit Lions competitive in preseason opener
Detroit had some positives and negatives, as expected, from its preseason opener last week.
The first unit played just a few possessions and exited with the game tied 3-all.
Jared Goff was efficient in his Lions’ debut, going 7 of 9 for 56 yards.
The much-hyped offensive front of Detroit didn’t look particularly strong. Jamaal Williams rushed for just 15 yards on nine carries, while the Lions gave up four sacks.
D’Andre Swift sat out the game with a groin injury, and has still been absent at practice this week. That leaves his status for Saturday more in question by the day.
An offensive highlight for the Lions was undrafted second-year back out of Kutztown, Craig Reynolds.
Her rushed for 49 yards on six carries, including a 24-yard touchdown to help the Lions gain the lead in the fourth quarter. Reynolds showed slick moves on the field as he fights for a roster spot.
Defensively, Detroit held Buffalo to 259 total yards and just 4-for-14 on third-down conversions.
One of the bright spots for the defense was second-year end Julian Okwara, who was a consistent presence in the backfield during the second half.
Julian is the younger brother of Romeo Okwara, who signed a new contract with the Lions in the offseason.
Detroit ends Muhlbach’s historic run
The week leading up to this game hasn’t been one with a lot of bright spots.
On Tuesday, head coach Dan Campbell announced that the team was cutting longtime long snapper Don Muhlbach.
Muhlbach spent 17 seasons with the Lions and was one of the fixtures of the franchise throughout his career. He played 260 games for the Lions.
Adding to the difficulty was that the move was made on Muhlbach’s 40th birthday.
“Look, I got the utmost respect for Don,” Campbell, a former teammate of Muhlbach’s, said in his press conference on Tuesday. “(Muhlbach) was a pro, he was an even better person. He meant a lot to this organization, he always represented it well. He’s an outstanding teammate who’s always locked in. A man of his word. So I hate it, man. This is the hardest time, especially a player like him.”
Scott Daly is now the only long snapper on the Lions’ roster, but Campbell didn’t rule out having another option come into Detroit.
Big Ben to make preseason debut
The Pittsburgh Steelers will put their starting quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, on the field for the first time this Saturday.
Big Ben is entering his 18th NFL season this fall, and he’s stepping into a new scheme under first-year offensive coordinator Matt Canada.
Although it’s unclear how long Roethlisberger will play on Saturday, the Steelers have confirmed he will start the game.
Former Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins has landed himself in Pittsburgh this season and is having a strong preseason. Through two games, he is 24 of 35 passing for 215 yards and a touchdown. Haskins is trying to rip the backup job away from Mason Rudolph.
Pittsburgh has been working in rookie running back Najee Harris slowly this preseason. The first round pick from Alabama has nine carries for 32 yards through two games.
Defensively, the Steelers are giving up about 300 yards per game in the preseason. Last year, Pittsburgh ranked third in the NFL in fewest yards allowed (305.8 per game).