Remember last week when I said this wasn’t the Same Old Lions? I may have spoken too soon. The Lions, as it seems they are every year, are plagued by injuries. Two starting wide receivers, their kicker, their right guard, the list goes on. But, as Lions fans, we have to practice the foolish optimism we’re known for. This team is more than the sum of its parts, and Seattle is a beatable team still finding its footing. But with a head coach like Pete Caroll and two very talented receivers, they shouldn’t be underestimated. To lead this team to .500, the best path to victory is through Sackrider’s Three Keys to the Game.
1. Get Jamaal Williams going.
Everyone knew this had to be one of my picks, right? Jamaal Williams did fantastic filling in for D’Andre Swift last week after he left vs Minnesota, and he’s hopefully going to get right back in the swing of things this week. Expect to see the ball in his hand a lot. Helping him out here is the fact that the Seattle D-Line is very bad. PFF has graded their top linemen at 60.3. This poorly constructed unit faces the vaunted Lions O-Line this week, which should have plenty of opportunity to pop some holes open for the runners. I’d even expect Craig Reynolds to get some touches. The Lions can run all over Seattle this week.
2. Get the ball to some under-utilized offensive weapons.
First, a moment of silence for D’Andre Swift and the Sun God St. Brown. Without them, the Lions offense will undoubtedly be less explosive. Additionally, halfway through writing this paragraph, it was announced DJ Chark is out. Another big loss. However, that doesn’t mean this Detroit team is without talent. Underutilized throughout the start of the season has been TE TJ Hockenson, who can be used for gains over the middle. His chemistry with Goff was good at the end of last season, and if they can rediscover that tomorrow, it should be a productive showing. Additionally, Josh Reynolds is still healthy, and preseason legend Tom Kennedy is coming up from the practice squad to aid this offensive. While I am worried about the injuries, I think OC Ben Johnson can make something from this.
3. Take away Seattle’s short-pass game.
Interesting stat: Against Atlanta, Seattle QB Geno Smith completed 15 passes to three different tight ends and three different running backs for 139 yards. Seems odd, considering their wide receivers are DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. The Lions need to isolate these short-yardage receivers and blow them up before the ball gets into their hands. Detroit needs to make sure that Smith can’t lob the ball over the middle, so look for linebackers Alex Anzalone and Malcolm Rodriguez to get heavily involved. If they can force Smith to throw downfield, the likelihood of an error or interception becomes that much greater, especially with the newfound emergence of Jeff Okudah.
I’m 1-1 on the year (didn’t make a prediction against the Eagles), but I’m not settling for mediocrity – just like the Lions shouldn’t. This is a winnable game. Seattle has proven resilient, but errors and a lack of talent can easily sink their ship at a moment’s notice. However, I’m not going to count them out. The Lions are facing injuries, but I think that there are enough decent players left to salvage this game. It’s going to be tighter than it should be, and neither team will run away with it, but the Lions can – and should – pull this out. If they don’t, it’s time for a deep look at what’s wrong with the team. Lions win 24-17.