With the Dan Campbell era entering Week 3, the Lions are still looking for win No. 1 as they host the Baltimore Ravens (1-1) on Sunday at Ford Field.
In the first two games, the Lions have been competitive in stretches including the first half at Green Bay, but not for the complete game. It won’t be easier against Lamar Jackson and the Ravens.
“Winning solves a lot of problems, a lot of issues. So, yeah, it certainly helps significantly,’’ Campbell said on Friday. “A win can take a lot of the pain and sting away from things that have gone on, but there again, the byproduct of winning is playing proper football and playing the right type of game and being accountable to one another and doing your job.”
Here are five things to watch:
1. Stopping the run. The Lions were able to hold Packers running back Aaron Jones to 3.9 yards per carry so they hope to build on that to contain Lamar Jackson who averages 96.5 rushing yards a game along with two touchdown passes and two interceptions. “We’re going to attack, man. We’re going to do what we do. Last week it showed that we can hold up against the run against a really good running back,’’ Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn said. “… We’ve got to continue that trend and while we’re continuing that, we’ve got to continue to chip away at some of this other stuff that we’ve got to get better at.”
2. Limit the Ravens’ chunk plays. “Look, you play the odds, you do everything you can to limit their explosives, but inevitably, even as good as you can play, you look, they rush for 100 yards, what is it, 41 consecutive times? That’s what they do,’’ Campbell said. “They do it well, they run it. And so I think the big thing is, ‘Man, how do you – you’ve got to get a tackle for loss here. You’ve got to get a couple of stops because that one stop that forces them into third-and-8, third-and-10, maybe the difference in the game.’ So, if we can just find a way on one or two of these possessions and limit the explosives, if they’re going to do it, it can’t be these chunk runs. I think that’s the big thing.”
3. The Lions defense will be without veteran linebacker Jamie Collins who is on the trading block. That will give Derrick Barnes and Jalen Reeves-Maybin, who both excel on special teams, experience playing defense. “(Barnes) plays lights out, he can run. Look, he’s going to have some growing pains. Things are going to come up, but he can make up for a lot just with his effort, too, which he’s done,’’ Campbell said. “There again, ( Reeves (Maybin) is going to play, too. He’s going to help us on defense as well. We just felt like this was where we needed to go.”
4. Detroit’s offense was shut down in the second half in Green Bay. Jared Goff (5 touchdowns, 2 interceptions so far) had good protection from the offensive line, giving him plenty of time to throw. But the Ravens’ blitz will present different challenges. “They’re not going to deviate, he’s not going to deviate from what he does. they’re going to challenge our receivers,’’ Campbell said. “They’re going to try to take (T.J. Hockenson) Hock away. We’re going to have to be creative and we’re going to have to have some plays where we may block them up, where we get them all out. But, they’re bringing it. I mean, it’s coming.”
5. Lions running backs D’Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams have shown positive signs which is why it’s important for the offense to put points on the board early and not fall too far behind. “I think it’s a really good one-two punch. I love it when we can do it early in the game, but I’d like to go four quarters doing that sometime. But that day will come, hopefully this weekend,’’ Lions offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn said. Williams is averaging 4.9 yards per carry while Swift is at 4.0 yards.
PREDICTION: Ravens 35, Lions 20