Heading into a difficult road matchup in Week 15, here are three key matchups for the Detroit Lions against the New York Jets.
Heading into the regular season there weren’t too many people eyeing a late-season matchup between the Detroit Lions and New York Jets as one of tremendous significance. Two franchises stuck on the NFL’s doormat for years facing off in what was supposed to be a matchup of two teams vying for draft position.
Fast forward to today. and all of a sudden this is a matchup between two of the best young teams in the league. Both of whom are fighting to keep their playoff hopes alive. Whoever wins this game very well could determine who makes the postseason and who doesn’t, despite these teams playing in different conferences.
On paper, this game should be very entertaining. Detroit boasts one of the best offenses in the league, while the Jets have one of the best defenses. While the Jets’ offense isn’t outstanding, they still have exciting pieces to give the Lions issues. Detroit will be hard-pressed to try and win their second game in East Rutherford this year.
Here are three key matchups for the Detroit Lions against the New York Jets in Week 15.
Detroit Lions vs. New York Jets: 3 key matchups for Week 15
Matchup 1: Lions WR DJ Chark vs. Jets CB Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner
The fourth overall pick in last April’s draft, “Sauce” Gardner has lived up to the hype and then some. He’s currently the odds-on favorite for Defensive Rookie of the Year and has been not just the best rookie corners in the league, but one of the best corners in football. From day one Gardner has helped change the identity of the Jets’ defense.
Chark has emerged over the last few weeks for the Lions as the weapon they hoped for when they signed him. Chark has done a phenomenal job at working the intermediate areas of the field and has caught a deep shot in back-to-back games as well. His emergence as a true ‘X’ receiver has helped make the Lions’ offense more explosive.
With how good Gardner has been playing, Chark may be in for a long day. However, if he is able to catch a few targets against the Jets’ top corner it would open things up for the rest of the offense. He won’t have another 90-yard game, but if Chark could hit over 50 yards it would be a successful day against one of the bright young stars in the league.
Matchup 2: Lions CB Jeff Okudah vs. Jets WR Garrett Wilson
As if having the favorite for Defensive Rookie of the Year wasn’t enough, the Jets also boast the favorite for Offensive Rookie of the Year in Garrett Wilson. He has at least 90 yards in four of his last six games, including a 162-yard performance against the Vikings in Week 13. He possesses a lethal combination of speed and route running that will pose plenty of issues for Detroit.
It seems likely Okudah will be able to return to his usual full-time role this week. Against the Vikings, he was severely limited due to an illness and was barely able to take the field. His presence was sorely missed, as Justin Jefferson absolutely destroyed the other pieces of the Lions’ secondary.
This is going to be a very interesting matchup. Wilson thrives in creating separation and doing damage over the middle of the field. One of Okudah’s best traits is his catch-up speed when he sticks on a receiver’s back hip. Okudah will probably want to lean on his physicality to slow Wilson down.
Matchup 3: Lions interior offensive line vs. Jets DT Quinnen Williams
Everybody remembers the absolutely dominant performance Ed Oliver had against the Lions on Thanksgiving. Williams poses even more of a threat to the Lions’ interior line. Currently tied for sixth in the league in sacks with 11, Williams is a terrifying presence on the interior who collapses pockets with regularity.
Theoretically, the combination of Jonah Jackson and Frank Ragnow should hold up fine. They both will be challenged, and it will take their best efforts to keep Williams contained. However, there’s also the issue at right guard. Evan Brown is the preferred option right now, but he’s still working his way back from injury. As is fourth-string guard Kayode Awosika. This means either Logan Stenberg or Dan Skipper might be in line to start on Sunday.
Considering the threat Williams poses, having a fifth-string guard across from him is a scary thought. Even if Brown plays, Detroit will need to help him out with double teams. If Brown or Awosika can’t go on Sunday though, watch out.
Want your voice heard? Join the SideLion Report team!