I’m a relatively easy going guy, and I don’t think I harbor a lot of animosity toward any one person. Sure, it feels like this rollercoaster of a team is going to lead me to an early grave, but I don’t really hate anyone on any squad, because I know they all just want to compete and to win. That being said, I do extremely despise one guy. A few hints: he’s got a thick black beard and keeps a pencil behind his ear, and he seems to take pleasure from belittling others to further his own ego. Have you guessed it?
I really f*@#$%g hate Matt Patricia. I hate the way he ran my favorite team into the ground. I hate the way he shipped off our best players for pennies on the dollar because they disagreed with him. I hate the way he never took responsibility for his mistakes, and for somehow making bad coaching schemes the player’s fault when they failed to execute a muddled, second-rate shadow of Bill Belichick.
Whoof. I needed to get that out of my system.
My gut says that the Lions can win a matchup against New England, with our newly-dominant offense against their weak run defense. But our defense is a liability, and how Lions-esque would it be to make Patricia look like an offensive mastermind? In short, I’m very nervous for this matchup. Therefore, as always, I’ve prescribed Sackrider’s Three Keys to the Game.
1. TJ Hockenson.
The fourth year tight end set several personal highs against Seattle, and with several injured offensive personnel, Hockenson better be ready to repeat should the need arise. The Patriots have allowed five touchdowns to tight ends this season, the most in the NFL. Also, this is a scheme very similar to that run by Patricia during his time with the Lions. The secret to tearing it down is exploiting the seams with short yardage weapons, as it’s built on bigger, stockier guys to build pressure, rather than explosive athletes who can cover and adapt. Hockenson should be able to tear through this defense with ease.
2. Stop the run.
Ok, we need to talk about this. There are good running backs, who make ripping apart the best-laid defensive schemes look easy. Rashaad Penny is not one of them, guys. And yet, he tore the Lions apart. We can’t let that happen again this week – not when we’re up against Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson. Barry Sanders reincarnate, they are not. Facing opposing running backs has been this team’s kryptonite, and I do not want to see it wreck this team again. If the Patriot’s can run the ball, they can control the clock and keep their new rookie QB from throwing it. If the Lions can bottle it up, the pressure is on Bailey Zappe, and I’d love to see him face the heat in this game.
3. Clock Control.
This defense is practically giving points away for free, so the best way to play this would be to draw the game out and keep them off the field. Jamaal Williams performed admirably in place of the injured D’Andre Swift, and he’s going to have to keep it up. Running the ball and running the clock out is tantamount to victory here, as is believing that a Ben Johnson offense is better than one led by Matt Patricia when the chips are down. Provided there are no clock management blunders, the best strategy seems to be trusting the offense to be their usual high-flying selves and keeping the defense on the benches.
My Prediction: Bailey Zappe did some admirable things in his first game, hanging around with Aaron Rodgers in crunch time. Also, Gillette Stadium is a hostile environment, and this horrendous defense is a big weight around the team’s neck. That being said, the Lions offense has looked unstoppable, and I think they’ll be able to shed some doubt coming into a must-win matchup. If this game makes Matt Patricia look like Andy Reid, heads are going to roll – starting with Aaron Glenn. Lions win 35-23.