Originally posted on 60 Max Power O  |  Last updated 9/16/12

 

Last fall, the Detroit Lions got off to a fast start, hitting 5-0 almost before the leaves fell. That bubble was quickly burst by the San Francisco 49ers, who came into Ford Field and outmatched the Lions, pulling out a win with a late touchdown. As everybody knows, the botched handshake dominated all post game discussions, but both teams also played a close, hard hitting game, which should be the focus heading into this season's excellent rematch.

 

With handshakes already the biggest issue, what are other things to watch as a nation of Sunday night football followers tunes in? Here's five clues:

1. Can The Lions Contain Frank Gore? The Lions were embarrassed on the ground, yielding over 200 yards rushing to the 49ers last time around. The bulk of these runs were produced by the churning legs of Gore, who got loose for several big plays and busted through Detroit's porous rush defense. Last week, the Lions bottled up Steven Jackson, but will their rededication to run defense pay off this week? If Detroit wants to win, they'll have to prevent the 49ers from controlling the clock and churning out big yards on the ground.

2. The Turnover Battle. In the last meeting, the Lions forced two turnovers, and managed a field goal and touchdown. This time around, the turnover story will be just as important at night on the road. Unlike last year, count on whomever takes care of the ball best to win this time. The Lions cannot afford to toss the ball around like they did against the Rams early last Sunday and expect to win. If  Matthew Stafford is inaccurate again right off the bat or the Lions fumble, Detroit will be playing from behind right off the bat. That's not the recipe for road success.

3. How Will Kevin Smith Run In A Road Game Against A Good Defense? We've seen Smith's statistical dominance against teams like Carolina and St. Louis at home, but how will he do on the road against a tougher defensive front? Last year, Detroit ran for a terrible 66 yards against the 49ers, so if they're able to do anything better, the passing game will do even better than it did a year ago. Smith looked confident right off the bat, so how he plays will go a long way in determining how well the Lions' offense performs on Sunday.

4. Calvin Johnson's Effectiveness. Johnson has missed a few practice days this week with what is being described as a foot problem, but he's still expected to play on Sunday night. Obviously, the Lions are going to need a healthy effort from Johnson, their best player, to keep up Sunday night. Will this injury, no matter how severe, derail his normal superhuman-type performance from taking place? If so, the 49ers will have a much easier time containing Detroit's physical, pass happy offense.

5. Jim Schwartz And Jim Harbaugh. Simply because everyone probably wanted me to throw this in The cameras will be all over both of them. When the two do finally meet, how will things go? Predictably, it will probably be hugs and smiles all over, which will play well for the cameras and a national audience. Obviously, there probably won't be a return to handshake gate, but how will the post game meeting go between the two?

Be sure to check out other great articles at Sports Media 101.

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