7 Detroit Lions who must play well in Week 5 vs. the Patriots
5. LT Taylor Decker
4. RT Penei Sewell
Decker and Sewell have a challenge ahead of them going up against Patriots’ edge rushers Matthew Judon and Deatrich Wise, who Pro Football Focus has credited with 26 quarterback pressures between them (h/t to Ben Raven of MLive). They each have four sacks this season.
Sewell and Decker have combined to allow two sacks this season (one apiece), and Sewell is a top-15 overall offensive tackle as graded by PFF.
The Lions’ offensive line has been front and center to Jared Goff’s success this season by keeping him impeccably clean in the pocket. That effort will be spearheaded on the edges this week, and obviously start with Decker and Sewell.
3. LB Malcolm Rodriguez
2. LB Alex Anzalone
I’m doubling up here again. Rodriguez was PFF’s highest-graded Lions defender from the Week 4 debacle against Seattle, while Anzalone may have had his worst game as a Lion independent of PFF grade.
The Patriots will want to make running backs Rhamondre Stevenson and Damien Harris the centerpiece of their offense on Sunday–I could see 15-20 carries/touches for both quite easily. With the Lions allowing a league-worst 5.6 yards per carry, it looks to be a good and profitable plan with a rookie quarterback making his first start.
Rodriguez has some edges to refine in coverage, as a rookie linebacker might, and Anzalone actually wasn’t awful this season before last week. Both will be critical to putting New England’s offense off-schedule on Sunday, and everything else will fall from there for Detroit’s defense.