Detroit Lions vs. New England Patriots: What to watch for

Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)
Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images) /
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Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images /

Pressure’s on

The Lions ranked in the middle of the pack last season with 43 sacks, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. They struggled to generate consistent pressure on quarterbacks, too often allowing big plays to develop downfield, and putting too much of the onus on the secondary. That must change in 2019 for the defense to reach the next level, and they have taken steps to correct it.

Pro Football Focus’ (PFF) sixth highest graded edge defender from 2018, Trey Flowers, now wears Honolulu blue, and he will be depended upon to help generate a consistent pass rush. Flowers has never reached double digit sacks in a season, and may not this year either, but he should help the Lions get after the passer from a variety of spots on defense.

Add in edge rushers Romeo Okwara and Devon Kennard, both coming off of career seasons, as well as new addition interior lineman Mike Daniels and developing pass rushing skills from linebacker Jarrad Davis, and the Lions have the players to do it. Perhaps we’ll see if they can disrupt the Patriots’ and future opponent’s passing games without blitzing too much.

En Guard!

Four starting positions along the Lions’ offensive line seem solidified, with left guard being the lone slot up for grabs. Several players have been jockeying for the spot, could someone make a strong case in their first preseason action?

Veterans Kenny Wiggins, Oday Aboushi and Joe Dahl are the main competitors for the position, along with some other younger players. Wiggins would seem to be the front-runner at this point, but don’t discount the versatile Dahl, who received a two-year contract extension this week. All three should see plenty of snaps tonight, and they could use the opportunity to gain some traction.