The Detroit Lions clawed their way back to .500, and are looking like a very dangerous team. But how will they perform against the Seattle Seahawks?
The Detroit Lions have finally shaken off the last vestiges of their loss to the New York Jets and seem to have found their footing. Detroit has won three of their last four and are in the thick of the NFC North hunt.
Their defense is bending to be sure but they are breaking less. And their offense has gotten the memo and are giving running back Kerryon Johnson his touches.
This week, the Lions are facing a steadily rising Seattle Seahawks team that is surviving at 3-3 even as its talent on both sides of the ball pretty threadbare. But Seattle looks to be getting some help back on defense and their offense has been quietly playing some decent football so this will be no walk in the park.
Notes in the Miami game
Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford is on another level right now. Lions’ rookie running back Kerryon Johnson was great and we’ll get to him in a bit, but Stafford only missed four passes on the day and one was a drop by wide receiver Golden Tate which would have been a touchdown.
Against the Dolphins in Week Seven, Stafford didn’t have to do it all with his arm. But he did make the most of his throws throughout the contest.
Stafford also showed amazing awareness throughout the game in Miami. On one play, in the third quarter, he was inches from getting sacked from behind (there’s no way he saw it coming) but he had the presence of mind to step into the pocket then run for the first.
On another play, Stafford handed the ball off to Johnson and instead of just taking the play off, he was there to block when the rookie needed to cut back across the field.
Johnson was outstanding pretty much every time he touched the ball. I only saw one run that was for a loss and he averaged an eye-popping 8.3 yards per carry. The 2018 second rounder has shown great vision, patience and acceleration every time he touches the ball; especially when he swings to the outside. The team’s recent success in the run game speaks volumes about how well this offensive line is playing so far.
The Lions defense showed the ability to get to the passer by notching 4.0 sacks in the game which now places them fourth in the league in sacks with 21.0 total. While some would argue that sacks are the result of good coverage this was one game where they were getting to Miami quarterback Brock Osweiler very quickly. Although there were some plays the defense might want back, the secondary did enough to keep the Dolphins from mounting any real comeback.
Notes on the Seahawks offense
The biggest area of concern in facing the Seahawks will be the strong stable Seattle has at running back led by Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny. With these two and the always elusive Russell Wilson at quarterback, the Detroit defensive line will have its hands full keeping the backfield contained.
While the Seahawks run game is a big concern, help may be on the way in the form of monster run stuffer Damon Harrison whom Detroit acquired from the New York Giants for a fifth-round pick in 2019. Harrison is one of the very best nose tackles in the NFL and was an All-Pro as recently as 2016.
Finally, there is also the weekly mystery of defensive end Ziggy Ansah. This week we heard from Lions head coach Matt Patricia that Ansah wants to play and that he is doing everything he can to make that happen but nothing beyond that.
Thoughts on Seattle’s defense
On the other side of the ball, Lions’ offense may have to contend with the return of Seattle linebacker K.J. Wright, one of the anchors of a Seattle defense that is currently ranked 5th in points allowed. Admittedly, Wright was limited in practice but Seattle head coach Pete Carroll did say he expected him to play.
Detroit’s greatest asset on offense is its versatility which has been on full display the last few games. Whether its wide receiver Kenny Golladay making contested catches, Tate breaking ankles and gaining yards after catch or Johnson running over, around and even through defenses more and more each week; Detroit has so many options opposing defenses will have a hard time finding a focus to scheme around.
A lot of people will surely be looking closely at both teams practice reports leading up to the game at Ford Field on Sunday and for good reason. Eyes will be on Wright and his return in Seattle, as well as Ansah and his potential return. Additionally, Detroit and Seattle fans will both be waiting to see if the Lions newly acquired run-stuffer, Harrison, will be able to play.
This game is unlikely to be a defense struggle or an offensive shootout. But, instead, something somewhere in the middle. But who practices and how much will go a long way in telling us what type of contest it will be.