While the Lions are in a somewhat familiar situation with a 1-3 record they are in uncharted waters when it comes to having the NFL’s best offense and worst defense.
If the Lions want to beat the Patriots on Sunday in New England, the offense will need to maintain its high-scoring ways and the defense will have to show signs of improvement.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick goes after his opponent’s strength so the Lions know what he will try to do.
“His teams are always going to – they’re never going to let the best player beat you on either side of the ball. That’s what – that is 100 percent – whatever you do well is what they’re going to try to take away first,’’ Campbell said. “First and foremost and if you can find a way to win it without that, then OK, he’s playing the odds.’’
But remember, Campbell is one fearless, aggressive coach who is not afraid of fourth downs and has plays in his back pocket that have not been revealed yet this season.
Five things to watch as the Lions (1-3) face the Patriots (1-3):
1. The Lions’ defense was under the microscope after allowing the Seahawks to score 48 points in the 48-45 loss last Sunday. Campbell has given defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn his vote of confidence. “He’s no different than any of us, it’s all about moving forward and getting it right. That’s what we’ve done, we turned the page, it’s a new week and we’re going to be ready to go,’’ Campbell said. The Patriots with third-string quarterback Bailey Zappe might have something to say about that.
2. Look for personnel changes on defense. Rookie defensive tackle Demetrius Taylor will make his NFL debut. Will Harris will likely get more defensive snaps. After he played 100 percent of the defensive snaps in the win over the Commanders, he played 20 snaps in the loss to the Vikings and just nine in loss to the Seahawks..“He’s a guy we do have a lot of trust in, I can see him play this weekend. I think he’s going to play,’’ Campbell said. “I think there’s a lot of guys who are going to play. We’re looking for the right combination of players, they can all feed off each other, make some plays and be where they need to be.’’ Others who could seem more time in the secondary include Bobby Price, Ifeatu Melifonwu, A.J. Parker and Chase Lucas
3. While it’s up to Campbell, Glenn and the defensive staff to prepare them, the players have to take accountability and ownership.”I feel like our guys are going to do that. Nobody wants it more than they do and we do in this locker room,’’ Campbell said. “I can tell you this, they’re locked in … we’re going to give them a plan they can succeed in and play fast. All hands on deck.’’
4. While there’s much dislike for former Lions coach Matt Patiricia, who now calls the offensive plays for the Patriots, Campbell is not jumping in on that. In fact he praised what Patricia, the former defensive guru, has done switching to the other side of the ball. “I think it’s tough, I think it’s tough, but I also know if you know football and you’re a good coach you can adapt and that’s what I see, he’s adapting quickly,’’ Campbell said. “And every week it’s better and better and better. They’re attacking their opponents. They’re putting together good game plans, they’re using the roster well.’’
5. The LIons offense has been remarkable in fighting through injuries and still producing points. Detroit’s 18 touchdowns and 140 points scored both lead the NFL. Belichick will try to find a way to stop them but he’ll have to get through the offensive line which has been playing well. Jared Goff, who has only been sacked five times, may be playing his best football. Don’t overlook the run game either, you know Belichick won’t.
BONUS: Running back D’Andre Swift (shoulder/ankle) will miss his second straight game. Two wide receivers — D.J. Chark (ankle) and Quintin Cephus (foot) — are out. Actually, Cephus was placed on injured reserve. Others who have been ruled out are: Defensive lineman John Cominsky (wrist), defensive end Charles Harris (groin) and offensive tackle Matt Nelson (calf). Wide receivers Amon-Ra St. Brown (ankle) and Josh Reynolds (ankle) are questionable. The Lions have a bye next week and expect to get many players healed by the time they return.
(Prediction: Lions 31, Patriots 21. Just don’t see the Pats’ defense stopping Goff and his gang.)