Matchup 2: Lions CB Mike Hughes vs. Bills WR Stefon Diggs
The Lions will not have top cornerback Jeff Okudah on Thursday, after he left the game against the Giants with a head injury. That’s unfortunate time, as Diggs is one of the best receivers in the league and will challenge Detroit’s secondary in all areas of the field.
Similarly to Week 3 against Minnesota defending Justin Jefferson, it will take a team effort to contain Diggs. Hughes is likely to be the one lining up across from Diggs the majority of the time. He won’t be asked to man-up on Diggs regularly, or at least he shouldn’t be, but funneling Diggs toward his help will be important for Hughes.
Is it realistic to expect the Lions to stop Diggs? No. But that would be step number two to slowing down the Bills. Keeping Allen in the pocket, then taking away his top weapon.
Matchup 3: Lions LB Malcolm Rodriguez vs. Bills TE Dawson Knox
Against the Giants, Rodriguez had one of his rockier games as a pro as he still deals with an arm injury. The coverage aspects of his game remain a work in progress during his rookie season. However, he will be part of the plan to defend one of the Bills’ top red zone threats in Knox.
A year ago, Knox had by far the best year of his career. He topped his career high in yards by almost 200 and tripled his career high in touchdowns, with nine in 15 games. Knox is a big-bodied target that Allen heavily relies on in the red zone. In nine games this season Knox has a modest 31 receptions for 310 yards and two touchdowns, but he does have more than 50 yards in each of the last two games with a total of 13 targets over that span.
Rodriguez gives up a lot of size in this matchup, as Knox has five inches and 24 pounds on the Lions’ young linebacker. So the rookie is going to have to showcase some improved technique to make up the difference when he’s matched up against Knox. If Detroit can take away a big red zone threat for Buffalo, it will help maintain a bend-don’t-break style of defense.