While The Season Is Still Young, This Is A Must-Win For Detroit.
Must-win games are things that usually happen later in the season when playoffs are approaching and teams are trying to clinch. Well, sadly in week six of this season, this is a must-win for Detroit. While some still believe Detroit is 4-1, they aren’t and the record books say they are 3-2, so if Detroit wants to avoid a .500 record after starting the season 3-0, they need to beat New Orleans.
What many fans are thinking is that the Saints defense is a pushover. Well, despite the Lions defense impressing everyone around the NFL, these two defenses are closer than you’d think.
Points per game allowed: New Orleans 19.5, Detroit 19.4
Passing yards allowed: Detroit 1,279, New Orleans 1,061
Rushing yards allowed: New Orleans 438, Detroit, 373
Turnovers: Detroit 11, New Orleans 4
This game isn’t as easy as everyone expects it to be. Detroit can’t come into the game thinking they have it in the books, despite being 3-0 in the last three games against New Orleans. Detroit has to giddy up before the bye, or else the next 10 games will be long for them.
Matt Stafford’s Health Is A Must Watch
Matt Stafford looked like himself in the first three games of the 2017 season. He looked to be on track for an MVP. Then something happened. Stafford was off against Minnesota, but the running game and defense did its job well enough for Stafford to escape with a win, games him and the team would lose in the past. Against Carolina Stafford again seemed off.
His throws were better, but his legs weren’t. Getting his thigh and ankle tapped up, Stafford was limping. This week at practice, Stafford was a full participant but is listed as questionable for the game. His legs will be the main attraction to watch out for as if he gets those even more hurt, Jake Rudock might have to step in for him.
Darius Slay Can Rebound After Last Week’s Poor Performance
After taking down the likes of Julio Jones, ODell Beckham Jr., Larry Fitzgerald, and Stefon Diggs, Darius Slay was looking good. Then Kelvin Benjamin came in to ruin that. Now while Slay wasn’t always the one covering him, he was the one in the picture above. Slay allowed five catches for 71 yards and two touchdowns, getting a 50.3 grade from PFF and rightfully deserved.
This week he takes on Michael Thomas, who is having a good season so far, getting 25 catches for 310 yards and two touchdowns, and an 81.5 grade from PFF. Thomas is 6’3, two inches shorter than Benjamin, so Slay won’t have to work as hard to get up high with the wide receiver.
Thomas is a good matchup for Slay and one that is a good rebound test for the star cornerback. Thomas will push Slay to his limits, but Slay should be able to quiet down the number one receiver.
The Bye Week Is Next Week
This is a good time for a bye week for the Lions. The offense isn’t clicking as the running game has its good and bad days. Stafford needs time to heal and get back to what he was in the first three games of the season. The offensive line could see a big help in Taylor Decker as he is eligible to return when the Lions return from their bye week.
Another person who could return is punter Sam Martin. The defense will also be getting defensive tackle Khyri Thornton back from his suspension, but with Armonty Bryant getting cut after his suspension was lifted, things could end up the same for Thornton. Paul Worrilow is missing this week with an MCL sprain, the team saying he would be out 2-4 weeks, and after the bye it would be 4 weeks, meaning he should be ready to go against Pittsburgh.
The game comes down to two things. 1) Can Matt Stafford return to his old self, and 2) Can the defense rebound. If Stafford is having another poor game, the defense needs to be big like they were against the Vikings. If Stafford is having a good game, the defense can’t afford to allow tight ends to become wide open and give Drew Brees all the time in the world to throw the football.
Detroit will be able to win this game behind a better running game by Ameer Abdullah as Stafford still shows signs of injury, 17-10.
If you would like to see a more in-depth game preview, check out Zac’s article.