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.
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1. C Frank Ragnow

Referring back to how much Tampa Bay blitzes, Ragnow will be critical to the effort to keep Goff clean. Offensive coordinator Ben Johnson went so far as to call Ragnow the Lions' "secret weapon" this week (h/t to Pride of Detroit).

“Really, our secret weapon is Frank Ragnow,” Johnson said. “We put a lot on his plate, both run-game and pass-game, so he does a great job getting fronts identified for the rest of the offensive line and in the protection game with the running backs and the tight ends. So, he really is a key cog in what we do and I can’t say enough good things about him.”

Ragnow laughed at the idea he's the team's secret weapon this week.

"That's a first", Ragnow said.

Ragnow's role in recognizing where rushers are coming from is always important. This week it will naturally ramp up in importance, with how much the Buccaneers blitz and how they deploy their blitz concepts. Going up against defensive tackle Vita Vea will be another challenge for Ragnow, after facing Aaron Donald last week.

It's clear by the eye test and whatever other numbers, but Goff had a passer rating of 116.3 this season when kept clean and a 62.1 rating when under pressure. That, as expected, was one of the biggest gaps in the NFL. But he also had a rating of 95.7 when blitzed. It's important to note the distinction between facing extra rushers and actually being pressured, and the difference is clearly shown by Goff's numbers going back at least a couple years. And it's a credit to Ragnow.

Ragnow is one of the best centers in the NFL. His talent and his brains will be on center stage again against the Buccaneers. Not that there's any concern about him being on top of his game on Sunday, but he will have to be.

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