1. Get the deep ball going.
Outside of Jaycee Horn, who has quietly been having a good year, the Panthers secondary is weak. Their defensive line is dotted with some underrated talent, which matches up well with Detroit’s offensive line. In line with that, Goff won’t see a ton of pressure (hopefully), and should have time to dial up some deep balls. With Jameson Williams emerging and DJ Chark healthy, the Lions finally have the ingredients to stretch the field.
2. Don’t limit the offense.
The Lions did well with establishing the run on Sunday against the Jets. That being said, it was not Ben Johnson’s best showing as OC. The run game felt overemphasized, and the passes weren’t working well among the offensive personnel. In my opinion, Johnson felt like the run needed to be jump-started – which was true, but not at the expense of the rest of the playbook. Johnson has so many good ideas (see item 3), and forcing the run is detrimental to them. The run is undoubtedly necessary, especially in cold weather and wind. But with the offense Detroit has, they shouldn’t just settle.
3. GET WEIRD.
Yeah, the Lions are aggressive. They go for it on fourth down, they run fake punts, they give the ball to Tom Kennedy to throw. But Saturday is unlike any situation we’ve seen in a while – a possible chance for the Lions to slide into a playoff berth. Carolina has a losing record, but they aren’t pushovers. Just the opposite. Assuming Ben Johnson can get back to the best version of himself, Detroit can light up the scoreboard. They shouldn’t take any chances here – they should throw the kitchen sink at Carolina.
This, like every game the Lions have from here on out, is make-or-break. I think they’re going to come at the Panthers with the fury of Dan Campbell on three Five-Hour Energies. Last time I predicted a blowout by the Lions, my margin was somehow smaller than I thought by a touchdown. I think this goes a similar route to the game against Jacksonville. Lions win 34-17.