6 players who'll be biggest x-factors for Detroit Lions in Divisional Round vs. Buccaneers

Here are six players who will be the biggest x-factors for the Detroit Lions in Sunday's Divisional Round game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Ryan Kang/GettyImages
4 of 7

4. CB Cameron Sutton

Any way you slice it, Sutton has struggled in his first season as a Lion. At times, he simply has his eyes betray him and is not close enough to the ball to make a play on it. During recent games, those struggles have been exposed by a tough gauntlet of receivers.

According to Pro Football Focus, in recent matchups against Cooper Kupp, Puka Nacua, CeeDee Lamb and Justin Jefferson (twice), Sutton has been targeted 26 times and allowed 22 catches for 403 yards and three touchdowns. He had an interception against Minnesota in the regular season finale. Even with that though, opposing quarterbacks have posted a passer rating of 141.2 when targeting Sutton over that stretch.

Sutton has apparently been hesitant to speak to the media. Which, as Justin Rogers of the Detroit News noted, left defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn to speak on his behalf Thursday.

"Listen, he's handled those like a pro," Glenn said about the recent stretch of tough assignments for Sutton. "...Listen, everybody has an opinion. Everybody does. A lot of them don't know what the hell they're talking about, for the most part."

"When you play defense, people think (something) is happening when it's really not," Glenn continued. "People think you've got help or you don't, but no one really knows unless they're in those meeting rooms with us. The thing that he’s doing a good job of is he’s staying within himself, he’s built himself a cocoon and he understands exactly what we’re asking him to do. And listen, we’re going to continue to challenge him to be the best Cam that he can be on a weekly basis. And listen, we’re happy with him."

Glenn was definitely going to defend Sutton, and a lot of cornerbacks would struggle against the receivers he's had to go against lately. But it's hard to believe Glenn and the Lions are happy with what they've seen from Sutton on the whole this season.

The Lions know they can't let Buccaneers' wide receiver Mike Evans beat them on Sunday, and the numbers he has posted against single coverage this season are striking.

The Lions have to balance aggressiveness with the blitz against leaving Sutton in 1-on-1s with Evans. However many times Sutton is lined against Evans 1-on-1, he has to win more often than not or he'll be highlighted for all the wrong reasons again.