Detroit Lions vs. New England Patriots: 3 key matchups for Week 5

Credit: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images
Credit: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images /
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Credit: Detroit Free Press-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Detroit Free Press-USA TODAY Sports /

Matchup 2: Lions DT Alim McNeill vs. Patriots OG Cole Strange

The Lions have invested significantly in the defensive line over the past couple offseasons, particularly with Day 2 draft picks, with hopes the unit could become a strength. Through four weeks this season, that has not happened yet. A big part of the equation has been the lack of interior pressure. McNeill has not been bad, as he’s shown some flashes in games when he gets an opportunity to play over a guard and use his quickness. However, he has not done enough.

In this game, McNeill will surely see some matchups against Cole Strange, the Patriots’ first-round rookie guard. Having a strong start to the year, Strange had the best performance of his young career a week ago against the Packers–particularly in pass protection against Green Bay’s stud defensive tackle Kenny Clark.

McNeill needs to elevate his play this week, and Strange is going to give him a very difficult challenge. The Lions need to put some heat on whoever is under center for the Patriots on Sunday. be it rookie Bailey Zappe, Brian Hoyer or maybe even Mac Jones. The most direct line to doing that will be up the middle, and McNeill will be in the spotlight as a driving force.