Lions vs. Seahawks: 3 keys to victory for the Motor City
By Saul Fuentes
Another week calls for a new edition of 3 keys to victory for the Detroit Lions, who face another .500 team on the upswing in the Seattle Seahawks.
After a strong performance (especially in the running game) the Detroit Lions return to Ford Field to face another NFC team in the thick of a playoff push. The Seattle Seahawks have also won three of their last four behind a strong running game and a stingy defense.
If Detroit wants to keep pace in the NFC North and keep its current win streak alive here are three things they can do to help ensure a victory.
1. Open the game with a Grand Gesture
The Lions need to test Seattle’s defense from the opening whistle with some big shots downfield and then work the body with the run game afterward. A lot of the Seahawks defense is either older or their brand spanking new. So it should be pushed to see if it’s old and brittle or just a bit too inexperienced.
Make no mistake both teams know how important this matchup is and both need this win to prove they belong in the NFC playoff race, and neither has any real advantage at least on paper. But as I wrote on my Week 8 look ahead, one of the strengths of Detroit offense is its versatility.
The Lions should put to the test and get wide receivers Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones Jr. open up the field and allow slot receiver Golden Tate to create some space in the middle. What’s the point of having a fast car if you never push the gas pedal to the floor?
2. Play smart defense
Detroit must play conservative defense against an effective Seattle offense. The Seahawks boast three quality running backs and one of the most elusive quarterbacks in the league in Russell Wilson. Add a pair of receivers who are known as verticals threats and Detroit’s defense will have its hands full.
A smart move would be to use the nickel defense (generally five cornerback/safeties and two linebackers) but keep the extra cornerback/safety closer to the line of scrimmage to make sure they maintain containment.
Detroit has a quality secondary who can hang with the best of them but the Seahawks have one of the better red zone offenses right now, so that extra man in coverage would be good for keeping Seattle’s offense honest.
3. Use the Committee
Lastly, share the load at running back. I know this seems counterintuitive when you have the FedEx Ground Player of the Week in your backfield (congratulations to running back Kerryon Johnson by the way).
But when you face a team with a strong ground game, clock control is essential. So if Detroit gets Johnson going, they can’t be afraid to have power running back LeGarrette Blount get some touches just to soften up the defensive line some.
Bonus: Keep the tempo high!
A lot was made about the weather in last week’s game in Miami and how it would be a clear advantage for the Dolphins. But due to some shrewd planning and some dedicated Detroit staffers, the heat and humidity never seemed to play a factor.
This week another opportunity to use outside the box thinking to help get a win.
Stafford has proven adept at the no-huddle offense and this is a perfect opportunity for him to use it. It could keep a Seattle defense that hasn’t played a game in two weeks off its rhythm as well as not allowing them to substitute players.
A big issue people had in the preseason with Detroit head coach Matt Patricia was that he worked this team too hard. But that extra level of conditioning has paid off in the fourth-quarter of their wins. If this game turns into a four-quarter slugfest and Detroit can take advantage of a tired Seattle team at the end of the game with some no-huddle offense Lions fans will be thankful for Patricia’s tough love.