Patriots vs. Lions game preview: Tom Brady and company head to Detroit

Jared Wickerham

There shouldn't be a shortage of offense when Tom Brady and Matthew Stafford square off in Detroit.

Two of the NFL's most prolific passers will be on display in Detroit when Tom Brady and the Patriots face off against Matthew Stafford and the Lions in the third preseason game for both teams.

With most teams using the third week of the preseason as a dress rehearsal for the regular season, Brady, Stafford and other starters will likely play into the second half. That could mean plenty of offense considering this is a matchup of two of the NFL's top three teams in yards per game from a year ago.

Meet the Lions

Detroit enters the game with plenty of work to do, especially on the defensive side of the ball. The Lions were blasted by Cleveland in their second preseason game, losing 24-6. Detroit made a couple of moves following the game, signing cornerback Rashean Mathis and linebacker Rocky McIntosh.

The Lions' offense also had some issues, gaining just 217 yards. The return of Calvin Johnson will be a boost for the passing game, though there are still issues with the rushing attack. Reggie Bush gained 15 yards on eight carries and Detroit averaged just 2.4 yards per carry as a team.

After sitting out last week to rest his bruised knee, Johnson is expected to be active and play against New England.

Meet the Patriots

The Patriots have looked awfully good in the preseason thus far, even though New England is without a number of key offensive players from last season. Brady wasn't fazed by missing weapons in the team's second preseason game, completing 11-of-12 passes for 107 yards and a touchdown.

Danny Amendola racked up 71 yards in that game, but his status against Detroit remains up in the air. Amendola missed practice earlier in the week due to an unknown injury. He's already shown good chemistry with Brady, so the Patriots may opt to rest him and ensure he's healthy for the regular season.

Local Takes: Lions

Sean Yuille of Pride Of Detroit took a closer look at the Lions roster and still thinks Detroit will carry three quarterbacks.

I remain of the opinion that the Lions would be better off going with only two quarterbacks, but I don't think they will release both Kellen Moore and Thaddeus Lewis. That's why I still have three quarterbacks making the team.

Local Takes: Patriots

Rob Gronkowski won't play on Thursday, but as Kevin O'Connor of Pats Pulpit wrote, Gronk has a good chance to return by Week 3 of the regular season. Even if Gronkowski's return is delayed, O'Connor thinks he should be on the active roster.

Looking at the Patriots' schedule to start the season, it's probably in their best interest to not place Rob Gronkowski on the PUP, even if there is a slight possibility that he can't return until week seven anyway.

Follow the Fun

Be sure to check out SB Nation's team blogs, Pride Of Detroit and Pats Pulpit, for more analysis and highlights from the game.

Add these fine follows to your Twitter timeline:

@PrideOfDetroit

@patspulpit

@ttwentyman -- Lions beat writer

@jeffphowe -- Patriots beat writer

Odds

The Lions opened as a one-point favorite according to OddsShark.com. The over/under opened at 43-1/2 and shifted to 46.

Next Week

Detroit will wrap up the preseason on the road against the Buffalo Bills. The Patriots will finish at home, taking on the Giants in a rematch of Super Bowl XLVI.

More from SB Nation NFL:

Two Carries, Six Yards: The tragic story of Ricky Bell

Michael Vick wins starting job | Brandon Weeden, too

Chiefs acquire A.J. Jenkins from 49ers

Rob Gronkowski could return by Week 3

Longform: Olympian Marquise Goodwin seeks success on the gridiron

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