The Detroit Lions return home to Ford Field this Sunday after their gut-wrenching road defeat to the Minnesota Vikings. This Sunday, the Lions welcome the Seattle Seahawks, which is a big chance for Detroit to get to .500. Here are three keys to victory.
It is only three weeks, but D.J. Chark has underwhelmed Lions fans and coaches. Chark was the only significant free agent acquisition in the offseason, and fans expected much better performances from the former Jacksonville Jaguar. With D’Andre Swift and Amon-Ra St. Brown injured, Chark must come to life for the Lions. Drops and a lack of trust has blighted Chark’s spell in Detroit. Last week, Chark averaged 1.61 yards of separation. It was the worst among the Lions’ wideouts and well below the league average. Dan Campbell publicly questioned Chark this week, and this game must be the breakout party. The Lions do not have their two best offensive players; Chark has to shoulder the load and step up on Sunday.
With Swift injured, the onus falls on Jamaal Williams. The bruising runner is one of the locker room leaders, and he, too, needs to step up. Per Football Outsiders, Swift is the number one rusher in rushing DVOA. Williams has big boots to fill, and it is a challenging task. Why? With Williams on the field, the Lions see more eight-man boxes. It jumps from 3.2% with Swift to 23.26% with Williams. Yes, some of that is down to Williams coming in on short-yardage situations, but teams know that Williams is a power back looking to run behind his guards. The Lions have used light tackle boxes to their advantage; now, they need to grind out the tough yards against bigger boxes. Williams has to be the bell-cow if the Lions’ rushing success is to continue.
Win the Situations
The Lions are the worst red zone defense in the league. Conversely, they are one of the best red zone offenses in the league. The Lions’ defeat last week was down to being situationally great and then situationally poor. NFL games get decided on a handful of big coaching decisions, and the Lions coaches ultimately lost out on their choices last week. If the Lions earn another lead, keep an eye on offensive coordinator Ben Johnson and the play calling in the fourth quarter. That is where this game will be decided.