Know the Opponent: Detroit Lions

After losing 31-20 to Jacksonville last week, the Patriots have an opportunity to get back in the win column when they travel to Detroit to face the Lions.  Coached by first year head coach Matt Patricia, the Lions look to get win number one on the year after their 0-2 start.

The Offense

Lead by 10 year veteran Matthew Stafford, the Lions offense is surely capable of putting up points.  Stafford so far is 61 for 99 passing (61.6%) with four TD’s and four picks and 633 yards.  In the Lions season opener vs. the Jets on Monday Night Football Stafford was awful.  One touchdown and four interceptions and passing for 286 yards and a rather embarrassing 48-17 loss.  In week two, he shined throwing three touchdowns and no interceptions and passing for 347 yards.  Even though the Lions still lost to the 49ers 30-27, it showed promise for Stafford.  But in Stafford’s lone game against New England in 2014, he was sub par throwing for 264 yards with an interception in a 34-9 loss.  And just for comparison, Brady threw for 349 yards with two touchdowns and one pick in that game.

Look for Stafford to try and find Golden Tate.  Tate is an excellent route runner and may give Stephon Gilmore trouble.  So far on the season Tate has 14 receptions for 188 yards and a touchdown.  He had his first 100 receiving yard game last week in the Lions three point loss to the 49ers when he reeled in 7 catches for 109 yards.  But if Gilmore does do a good job on Tate, Stafford will most likely be looking for Kenny Golladay.  Golladay has one less reception that Tate but Stafford loves to target Golladay as he has 21 targets on the year.  Golladay is a big receiver too measuring at 6’4″ and he could easily have a big day against Eric Rowe or Jason McCourty.  However, don’t be surprised if Belichick puts Gilmore on Golladay and doubles Golden Tate.

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As for the backfield, they have Kerryon Johnson, old friend LeGarrette Blount, and Theo Riddick.  Johnson the rookie out of Auburn has just 60 yards rushing on the season with no touchdowns while Blount has just 35 yards.  However; look for the Lions to use Johnson and Riddick as receivers against a rather weak New England linebacking core.

We saw last week that New England’s run defense was good against TJ Yeldon and Corey Grant.  The Patriots defense held them both to under 100 yards combined.  So I don’t expect the Lions to rely heavily on the run game unless the Patriots bait them into it to keep the ball out of Stafford’s hands and Tate’s hands.

The Defense

We all remember the conservative defense from Patricia’s days in New England right?  Well guess what, he brought it to Detroit!  A defense that gave up 48 to the Jets.  48 FREAKING POINTS TO THE JETS!  Everyone lost their mind over Sam Darnold and how he’s the future but in week two against Miami, Darnold was OK.  He threw for 334 yards with a touchdown and a pick but he attempted 41 passes and completed 25.  On top of that, he was sacked three times.  In the Lions two games this year, they’ve given up 349 yards to the Jets and 346 to the 49ers.

Granted the Lions turned it over five times against the Jets which most certainly helped them.  But they have yet to give up 350 yards in a game.  Until New England comes to town on Sunday night.  You gave the Jets the ball five times and they managed under 350 yards.  You played a 49ers team with a quarterback that might not be invincible after all and did not relinquish 350 yards yet again.  But they haven’t faced an offense like the Patriots though.  Even though New England didn’t have the greatest of game plan’s last week, I’m sure it’ll change this week against Patricia’s zone defense.



-Brian Berard (@CouchGuyBrian)

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