Bengals vs. Lions 2013 game preview: Showdown in Motown

Detroit and Cincinnati are two of the better teams in the league and have a pivotal contest this weekend.

The Detroit Lions and Cincinnati Bengals -- a couple of playoff contenders -- will square off on Sunday afternoon at Ford Field.

Cincinnati is coming off a 27-24 overtime win against the Buffalo Bills, having almost blown a late fourth quarter lead before squeaking it out. Andy Dalton played well, throwing for over 300 yards while the defense had a bad day by its standards, allowing 24 points and late scores.

Detroit also won in Week 6, beating the Cleveland Browns after trailing 17-7 in the third quarter. Matthews Stafford and co. were able to score 24 unanswered points on the back of three touchdown passes and a stifling defense. The Lions racked up over 33 minutes of possession time and were a perfect 3-for-3 in the red zone.

Meet the Bengals

Cincinnati came into the season with some pundits claiming they could go to the Super Bowl. So far, at 4-2, the Bengals have the look of a team that should make the playoffs, but it is hard to say how far they can go. Marvin Lewis' team has struggled at times, losing to the Browns and nearly losing to the Bills. At the same point, they have had impressive wins over the Green Bay Packers and New England Patriots.

The defense has been the strong point for Cincinnati, ranking eighth in yards against per game, while being a top-10 unit in that department against both the run and pass. Most importantly, the Bengals only allow 18.5 points per game, seventh-best in the league.

On offense, things are more troublesome. At first glance, Cincinnati is 12th in yardage and has playmakers all over the field in A.J. Green, Jermaine Gresham and Giovani Bernard. However, the team is only 23rd in scoring with 20.2 points per game. Should Cincinnati have aspirations of playing deep in January, the offense will need to figure out how to finish drives.

Meet the Lions

Detroit, sitting at 4-2, is atop the NFC North along with the Chicago Bears. The Lions are off to a good start and most of their success can be attributed to an offense which can strike from all over the field, utilizing big-play athletes such as receiver Calvin Johnson and running back Reggie Bush. Detroit ranks sixth in passing, largely thanks to Johnson's 337 yards and Bush's 261.

Bush is easily one of the best pickups of the offseason. The former New Orleans Saints and Miami Dolphins running back is averaging a healthy 4.8 yards per carry. Bush has already scored three times and is yet to fumble away the football.

Defensively, DeAndre Levy is having a huge season to this point. Levy leads the team in tackles and interceptions, amassing 49 and four, respectively. Rookie Ezekiel Ansah has also played very well with three sacks in the early going, giving Detroit fans hope that their team hit on a high first-round pick.

Local takes: Bengals

Anthony Cosenza of Cincy Jungle writes about his thoughts from the first six weeks of the campaign:

Getting out of a tough first part of the schedule at 4-2 is definitely noteworthy. You don't get there if you are a weak-minded squad. A team also doesn't get there if it doesn't have the talent to do so. As advertised this offseason, this truly is a different Bengals team. One with confidence, heart and talent.

Now they just need to clean up the mistakes to start becoming a league juggernaut.

Local takes: Lions

Pride of Detroit's Sean Yuille gives his take on Cincinnati's win against Buffalo:

This past week, the Bengals did pick up a win on the road, but it took overtime for them to defeat the Thaddeus Lewis-led Bills. Yes, that's the same Thaddeus Lewis who was the Lions' fourth-string quarterback in the preseason. He went 19-for-32 for 216 yards and two touchdowns against Cincinnati.

Follow the fun

Be sure to check out SB Nation's team blogs, Cincy Jungle and Pride of Detroit, for more analysis and highlights from the game.

Add these fine follows to your Twitter timeline:

@CincyJungle

@PrideofDetroit

Prediction

Both of these squads are very talented and can cause problems for anybody in the league. However, both have a tendency to have bad games as well, usually against suspect teams, as the Lions did against the Arizona Cardinals and the Bengals have versus the Bills and Cleveland Browns. That said, these two should rise to the occasion this week as both try to stay in first place of their respective divisions. Ultimately in a game this close, you have to take the better quarterback or the home team. In this case, Detroit hits both checkpoints.

Pick: Detroit 20, Cincinnati 17

Odds

Detroit is favored by 2.5 points over the visiting Bengals, according to Oddsshark.com.

Next week

The Lions play host to the Dallas Cowboys while the Bengals return home for a date with the New York Jets.

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