Detroit Lions vs San Diego Chargers: What To Watch For


This is it football fans. The 2015 NFL regular season gets underway tonight in New England. unfortunately Detroit Lions fans will have to wait till 4:05 on Sunday to see their team open up its season. As always there’s a lot of questions surround the Lions right now and some that are more perplexing than the next. In any event, the Lions head out to San Diego on Sunday to take on Philip Rivers and the Chargers. Here’s what to watch for.

Will DeAndre Levy play?

Probably not. But the news that he’s been running around in practice and won’t need surgery is very encouraging. The Lions can ill afford to lose DeAndre Levy for any significant amount of time. While I’m sure he won’t play this weekend, Fridays designation should give fans at least some glimpse into his potential return time. Stranger things have happened before, but it may be best to keep your Levy jersey in the closet this week.

Can the run game start strong?

Right now the question is how much will each Lions running back play on Sunday? With Joique Bell back in the lineup I think it’s safe to say he will handle the majority of the carries in this first outing. Be prepared to get a nice dose of Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick in the pass game to start things off. As for Zenner, I’d be shocked to see him play a single snap of this game outside of special teams duty.

Aug 13, 2015; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions running back Ameer Abdullah (21) evades a tackle from New York Jets free safety Calvin Pryor (25) during the first quarter of a preseason NFL football game at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

All eyes will undoubtably be on Abdullah. Will he be able to translate what he did in the preseason over to the regular season? Will he break off a few monster runs? That’s gonna depend on our next question.

Will the offensive line show up?

This had to be one of the biggest concerns for the Lions all offseason after Matthew Stafford got sacked 45 times in 2014. You could see that the Lions felt the same when they devoted their first round to the offensive line in the NFL Draft. The line looked good during the preseason opening up holes for the run game and only allowing Stafford to get sacked once. But with Larry Warford out and LaAdrian Waddle’s health still a bit of a question mark, will the line show up to protect #9?

How will the Chargers tight end woes affect this game?

As if it wasn’t bad enough for the Chargers that start tight end Antonio Gates will miss the first four games of the season due to a suspension, the Chargers got more bad news today.

Green was set to replace Gates during his suspension and it now appears that may not happen. This is bad for the Chargers as Gates is the number on receiving threat for Philip Rivers. It’s good for the Lions who will be missing DeAndre Levy. If there were ever a better time for the opponent to be missing both it’s tight ends, this is that week.

How will Haloti Ngata look in his Lions debut?

After an entire training camp of worrying about the hamstring of Haloti Ngata, Lions fans can sleep well tonight knowing that Ngata will be in the lineup on Sunday. The Lions first tea defense looked pretty solid in the preseason, especially against Washington. With Ngata and Jason Jones adding their abilities into the mix, it would appear that the defensive line could go places in 2015.

Credit: David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

What makes this question even more exciting is the fact that Lions fans have been wanting to know the answer since opening day of free agency. After the loss of Suh, you have to wonder if Ngata’s impact will be felt as much as Suh’s was. We’ll see on Sunday.

Also be sure to check out our game by game season predictions here.

Mike Payton is an Editor at SideLion Report. He is from Holland, Michigan by way of Warren, Michigan. He considers himself to be obsessed with the Detroit Lions. Mike’s work has been featured on ESPN Radio, Fox Sports Radio, CBS Sports Radio and Mike is also a weekly contributor on It is what is with Sean Baligian on ESPN 96.1 and a contributor for The Holland Sentinel. Follow Mike Payton on Twitter@SLR_Mike

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