Rex Ryan isn’t shy when it comes to bragging about the New York Jets’ vaunted defense. And the Detroit Lions aren’t in a position to argue — yet. But after his team’s showing last week in a 37-25 win over the Washington Redskins, Lions coach Jim Schwartz would like to remind Ryan and his Jets they’ll have a fight on their hands Sunday when they visit Ford Field.
The Lions rank sixth in the NFL in scoring, and they’re averaging nearly 38 points per game at home. But Ryan doesn’t expect that to continue Sunday.
“Nope,” he said. “I don’t believe that’s going to happen. Hey, they could come out and prove me wrong, but I doubt it. … I don’t know what you guys are expecting, but the best defense in the NFL is coming into town.”
Later, Schwartz was asked about that assessment.
“They’re really good at stopping the run, and they’ve done a good job of putting pressure on the quarterback,” he said. “I mean, I think they have 15 sacks. We have 22 — I think that’s what it is.”
It’s 23 sacks for the Lions, to be exact, sixth-best in the NFL. And it probably wasn’t an accident that Schwartz, whose defense sacked Donovan McNabb and Rex Grossman seven times last week, decided to mention it.
He’s not about to get into a war of words with Ryan — “We’re a 2-5 football team,” Schwartz said — but he’s also not ready to concede anything to the Jets, who are coming off a shutout loss at home to Green Bay.
Keys for the Lions
• If the Jets stick to their guns and trust cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie in single coverage, Matthew Stafford will have to take his shots downfield. Calvin Johnson, who has 24 catches for 387 yards and seven TDs the last four games, is making his first visit to Revis Island.
• The Redskins torched the Lions special teams coverage units last week, and an injury to Isaiah Ekejiuba won’t help. Keeping the Jets’ Brad Smith bottled up might be a problem.
Keys for the Jets
• Mark Sanchez has a 48.2-percent completion rate, with just one TD and four INTs in his last three games. The Lions’ secondary is improved, but there’s still plenty to exploit as long as Sanchez doesn’t try to force the issue in this matchup of last year’s top two rookie quarterbacks.
• Fans in Detroit haven’t been this excited for a game in quite some time. The Jets can help quiet the crowd by pounding the ball early with LaDainian Tomlinson and the under-utilized Shonn Greene.
The Jets are coming off a shutout loss at home. But the Lions are better equipped to win a shootout at Ford Field. Chances are, they’ll meet somewhere in the middle. Jets 27-24.