1. Show no mercy.
The Lions are already renowned for being aggressive. But recently, that aggression has been for naught. Sure, progress is being made and identity is being established. But for once, these December games mean something. There is a slim chance – but a definite chance – the Lions can make the playoffs. So they don’t need to just be aggressive. They need to be ruthless. This game can mean something. The Lions have a chance to show the world they’re not just content with progress. They should show everyone they’re in it to win it. Don’t give them any reason to think that you’re an underdog for the rest of the season.
2. Disrupt the pocket.
Getting pressure on Lawrence is the name of the game on Sunday. Trevor Lawrence is great at working through a progression and seeing multiple reads on any given play. He also has a plethora of offensive talent to utilize. The Lions can lock these guys down, but without pressure, it may all be irrelevant. Detroit’s pass rush needs to hit home early and often, making their presence felt. Julian Okwara is out, but Romeo Okwara is back. Aidan Hutchinson is looking to prove the Jags made a mistake in the draft, and Alim McNeill is looking to continue a breakout season. The ingredients are all there. Time for Aaron Glenn to cook.
3. Utilize the middle of the field.
According to JP Acosta of SBNation, the Jags DVOA against tight ends ranks 30th in the league. Tyson Campbell has to also be factored in, as he has been under the radar as a pretty good CB1 for Jacksonville. All in all, the Lions will probably have the most success utilizing their short-yardage guys in the middle of the field. Deep plays may not happen, and they shouldn’t be forced. Pick on the linebackers. To win this game, look for Brock Wright, Amon-Ra St. Brown, and Kalif Raymond to have good days.
Today, there’s also a special surprise for all you lucky fans out there… a limited edition fourth key to the game:
4. Don’t force JaMo’s return.
We are all incredibly excited to see Jameson Williams active after a brutal ACL tear. Once he’s back to 100%, he could really unlock an exciting new facet of this offense. But don’t listen to the nerds on the internet (I know this is hypocritical, because I am a nerd on the internet). Williams has been treated with overstated caution this entire offseason. We shouldn’t force him into the lineup or design plays around him just yet. If he is what we think he could be, he’s special. We shouldn’t waste that talent and potential on a game against Jacksonville where the playoffs are only a slim possibility. By all means, see what you have in him, but don’t try to push his recovery. Let things progress naturally. He’ll be back in time.
The Lions started the season down and are trending up. The Jags started the season up and are trending down. Here, they meet in the middle. Trevor Lawrence is improving daily, but I think the Lions can make sure he doesn’t set himself on autopilot all day. The Jags are a better team than they’re given credit for, but the Lions are healthy and hungry. Hot take? This is a Dan Campbell statement win, and it’s never in doubt. Lions win 34-14.