A Look At The Key Player Match-ups That Will Affect The Outcome Of The Detroit Lions Vs New York Jets Game.
Football is back!
This Monday the Detroit Lions will kick off their season with a home match-up against the New York Jets. With the preseason in the rear-view mirror, we can finally look forward to seeing what new head coach Matt Patricia has planned for this team. As we approach this game, I wanted to take a look at the key player match-ups between the Detroit Lions and the New York Jets that will ultimately determine the outcome of the game. Below are the five most crucial match-ups the Detroit Lions must win to truly dominate this game.
Key Offensive Match-Ups for the Detroit Lions
Golden Tate vs Buster Skrine
Since 2014, Golden Tate has been the most consistent receiving threat on the Detroit Lions. He has had greater than 90 receptions in each of the four years with the Lions. Despite the emergence of Marvin Jones last year and the upside potential of Kenny Golladay, Tate is the key. With capable cornerbacks Trumaine Johnson and Morris Claiborne covering on the outside, it will be up to Buster Skrine to cover Tate in the slot. Buster Skrine is a high-upside player, who has played at a very high level on occasion but has also gotten burned badly as well. Specifically, he was absolutely torched by Dolphins receivers Jarvis Landry and Kenny Stills for three touchdowns. If the Detroit Lions can exploit this match-up and get the ball to Tate early and often, it will be a big boost for their offense.
Jim Bob Cooter vs The New York Jets’ Red Zone Defense
As efficient as the Detroit Lions’ offense was at times last season, they really struggled in the red zone. Effectiveness in the red zone is always a big factor in games but will be especially important in a game that could potentially be a shootout. I expect the Lions to move the ball with ease throughout the game, but the difference between a touchdown and a field goal is significant. Walking away with six will be a momentum-shifter, and will help to put pressure on the New York Jets’ rookie quarterback Sam Darnold.
Key Defensive Match-ups for the Detroit Lions
Nevin Lawson vs Jermaine Kearse/Terrelle Pryor
Assuming Darius Slay will effectively shut down New York Jets’ top receiver Robby Anderson, it will be up to cornerback Nevin Lawson to face off against the Jets’ second option. What the Jets lack in top-end receiving talent, they do have in very underrated depth. Terrelle Pryor, Jermaine Kearse, and Quincy Enunwa are all capable receiving targets for Darnold and could be a handful for Nevin Lawson, who has struggled mightily in preseason action. A big game from Lawson could really move the needle for the Detroit Lions, forcing Darnold to move to his third, fourth or fifth reads in his first NFL start.
Detroit Lions’ Linebackers vs Bilal Powell
Bilal Powell has for a long time been a criminally underrated receiving back in the NFL. With 128 receptions in his last 42 games, he has proven a difficult match-up for NFL linebackers. The Detroit Lions’ linebackers are not particularly adept in coverage. This could prove a problem. Jarrad Davis looked downright lost at times this preseason but has the athleticism to cover effectively. Devon Kennard and Jalen Reeves-Maybin also have above average athleticism but have also never proven reliable in coverage. With effective scheming and strong performances from these players, the Lions should be able to neutralize this threat.
Matt Patricia vs Sam Darnold
Last but not least, Darnold will be making his very first NFL start this Monday against the Lions. While he looked solid in preseason action, much of that was against “vanilla” defenses. Patricia has a real opportunity to start strong by scheming up something complex and confusing for Darnold to deal with. His game-planning ability was highly touted coming over from New England, so this is a match-up I expect him to win. Expect Patricia to dial up some exotic coverages and blitz packages to bring out the “rookie” in Darnold. With the weaknesses in the front seven, drawing a few mistakes out of Darnold will be crucial in keeping the Jets from putting up points.
A lot is riding on this game. Detroit Lions fans have been growing more apprehensive about this season as the offseason has gone on. They looked ugly in the preseason, have been erratic in their roster moves, and have created a general sense of anxiety in the fan base. This game is a massive opportunity for the Lions to grab an early win against an inexperienced team and provide a sense of hope for investment in Patricia as the new coach of the Lions. If they are able to win the match-ups above, I believe they will earn a decisive victory.
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