The Los Angeles Rams will have to travel to cold and snowy Michigan to take on the Detroit Lions on Sunday. The Rams had an extra week to prepare off the bye while the Lions had a couple of extra days of prep after playing in Thanksgiving.
Entering the season, the Lions were thought to be a sleeper pick with an explosive offense lead by QB Matthew Stafford and his trio of wide receivers in Golden Tate, Marvin Jones Jr., and Kenny Golladay. Armed with all the offensive talent and “genius” coach Matt Patricia to revitalize the defense, some thought the Lions would surprise.
Fast forward to this week and Golden Tate is a Philadelphia Eagle, Marvin Jones Jr. is on the Injured Reserve, and RB Kerryon Johnson (who has been awesome this season) might still be out with a knee injury. Here are some of the Lions that will play and try their best to prevent the Rams from getting to 11-1 and shattering my preseason prediction.
QB Matthew Stafford
The Lions rewarded years of production and loyalty to their homegrown QB in Stafford. Once the highest paid QB in the league, Stafford is having an average year at best, completing 67% of his passes for 2841 yards (240 per game) with 17 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. With limited weapons this week, it’ll be interesting if the Lions will try to open it up with a bunch of unknowns or lean more on the ground game.
DE Romeo Okwara
If I were to tell you the Lions lead sack man on the defensive line was born in Africa, many would assume it would be Ezekiel Ansah. They would also be wrong as Romeo Okwara is that guy this season (so far). Okwara has 29 total tackles and 5.5 sacks. Between him, Ansah, and surprising team leader in sacks Devon Kennard, the Rams will have to protect a multitude of rush lanes.
RB LeGarrette Blount
Blount joined the Lions after winning Super Bowls with the Eagles last season and the Patriots the year before. With Kerryon Johnson possibly still out (Johnson has 641 yards and three touchdowns), Blount will possibly have a bigger role while trying to add his sixth rushing touchdown of the season.
CB Darius Slay
Slay continues to be the Lions best defensive player. Although hampered a little bit this season with a nagging knee injury, Slay boasts 30 combined tackles for the season with two interceptions. Per PFF, Slay is the 32nd ranked cornerback. Knowing his tendency to usually shadow the best receiver for the opposition, Slay will likely be on Brandin Cooks exclusively.
OL Frank Ragnow
Usually the OL doesn’t get a lot of love but as a former lineman, here’s some props to Frank Ragnow. A first round pick that many (including myself) thought was a reach, Ragnow has only come in and played at a high level. Ranked a top-30 guard in the NFL per PFF, Ragnow has helped pave the way for fellow rookie Kerryon Johnson while protecting Stafford to have his second most accurate passing season of his career.