It would be a big step for the Lions to beat the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday. Detroit is coming off two straight wins, but they were over one-win teams.
No win in the NFL is easy, but beating Jacksonville and Atlanta was crucial to the Lions (3-3) moving forward. The Colts (4-2) should present much more of a challenge at Ford Field on Sunday.
Five things to watch:
1. The Lions defense which has looked much more solid since the bye week, must continue to mature. Lions linebacker Reggie Ragland said the reason for the improvement is easy: “Because everybody’s doing their damn job,’’ Ragland said. Good point. Here’s another from defensive coordinator Cory Undlin. “The more time you spend together, the more time you get used to each other. How many times has this been said as well as far as no OTAs, short training camp – and just like any family, any group of men that spend a lot of time together, there’s a chemistry and there’s a trust that goes into it. When you look to the guy to your right and the guy to your left, can you count on those guys? It has a lot to do with me and them towards me and me towards them. I think the longer we get together, the more time we spend together, it’s coming together.’’ So there you go. Defensive end Everson Griffen, who was acquired this week in a trade with Dallas, has to wait another week due to coronavirus protocols.
2. Detroit must maintain its run game. The yardage was down against the Falcons last Sunday but part of that was the game strategy. No worries. It’s a three-headed monster with Adrian Peterson, D’Andre Swift and Kerryon Johnson. Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said they’re constantly evaluating whether they’re using the running backs correctly. “Even last week, I think Swift ended up with the most just total number of plays, not necessarily the most carries, but the most total number of plays,’’ Bevell said. “It’s still in flux each and every week, trying to put guys in positions to be successful.’’
3. In the offseason apparently the Lions were vaccinated for fumble-itis and it worked. The offense hasn’t fumbled the ball in the first six games. “Honestly, I just think the guys do a great job with just fundamentals. I think that is a big part of our teaching of fundamentals. From Day 1, we talk about those things,’’ coach Matt Patricia said. “The No. 1 fundamental is ball security, and obviously trying to turn the ball over when we get those opportunities. We have a little bit of a saying, it’s called, ‘It’s all about the ball.’ That’s the truth.’’ (If you think asking Patricia this questions will jinx the streak, blame in on Justin Rogers of the Detroit News.)
4. Matthew Stafford had his best game so far this season with the comeback win over the Falcons. “I think that the guys that are calm in those situations are obviously guys that have been there before and Matthew Stafford’s been there a lot of times, and really just phenomenal in those situations. It was just great. I think everyone around him, too – give credit to the offensive line and the receivers and the skill guys. I thought they did a phenomenal job of everyone just being on the same page,’’ Patricia said. In six games, Stafford has connected 62.3 percent of his passes with 10 touchdowns and four interceptions.
5. The Colts’ defense is sneaky good according to Patricia. “Obviously, (DeForest) Buckner was a great addition inside to help them kind of create that penetration. He’s got huge length, he can play the run, he’s extremely strong. So, I think he’s just solidified the inside part of that defense. (Grover) Stewart’s in there, too. He’s a great player. (Justin) Houston on the edge, obviously now him with Buckner and the ability for them to run the pass-rush games that they run and the stunts that they use up front, I just think they’re very, very disruptive up front.
PREDICTION: Lions 27, Colts 24