The Detroit Lions are looking for their third win in a row and the fourth in their last five games as they host the Seattle Seahawks at Ford Field later today.
Both of these 3-3 football teams are looking to creep above the .500 mark and stay in the thick of things in the NFC race. Here’s five things to watch out for later today:
Defensive tackle Damon Harrison, who the Lions traded for earlier in the week, could play today against the Seahawks. Harrison is one of the best run-stuffing defensive tackles in the game, and the Seahawks come to town with the league’s seventh best rushing attack.
Seattle likes to run downhill, and they have a stable of running backs and a quarterback that can make it very hard on defenses to stop the run. Seattle is passing the ball just 50 percent of the time this season, which is their lowest rate since 2014, so it’s easy to see they want to set the tone with their run game early.
Defending the run has been an obvious weak link for the Lions’ defense this season. They’re 30th in the league stopping the run, and last in average yards per rush allowed. Harrison hasn’t been in town long, but can he still make an impact for Detroit in containing Seattle’s run game today?
Rookie running back Kerryon Johnson rushed for 158 yards in the win over Miami last week. That was the highest single-game total for a Lions running back since Jahvid Best went for 168 in a Monday night game vs. Chicago in 2011.
Johnson has been exactly what the Lions’ run game needed. After finishing last in rushing last year, Detroit currently ranks 12th in the league with an average of 122.3 yards per game. Can Johnson keep it rolling against a Seattle defense that’s allowing 120.7 yards per game on the ground, the eighth most in the NFL?
STAYING IN A GROOVE
The Lions are protecting Matthew Stafford and running the football well — two things that are a quarterback’s best friend. Stafford is being pressured on just 28.5 percent of his drop backs, which is the lowest percentage he’s seen in the last six years. There’s also been good balance to the offense with a consistent and reliable rushing attack.
Those factors are part of the reason why Stafford has recorded at least a 100.0 passer rating in each of his last five games. It’s the longest streak of his career, and currently the longest active streak in the NFL. He’s been able to let the game come to him.
Stafford has his work cut out for him this week, however. There’s a lot of new names on Seattle’s defense, but the results have been pretty much the same as always. Seattle’s defense is third against the pass (206.0), fifth in points allowed (19.5) and sixth in total defense (326.7) coming in.
Detroit has been impressive in their last two games at home in wins over New England and Green Bay. The Lions have jumped out to quick leads in both contests, and kept the pressure on.
The four quarterbacks with the highest passer ratings since 2012 are Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers (103.3), New Orleans’ Drew Brees (101.8), New England’s Tom Brady (99.4) and Seattle’s Russell Wilson (99.1). The Lions have already defeated two of the four at home this season. Can they make in three of four this week?
Wilson comes into the contest completing 64 percent of his passes for 1,308 yards with 13 touchdowns and four interceptions for a passer rating of 104.8. He’s been particularly good on play action, with a 134.9 passer rating and five touchdowns.
KEEPING UP THE PRESSURE
We’ll see if defensive end Ziggy Ansah makes his return this week against Seattle. He hasn’t played since Week 1 due to a shoulder injury, and is listed as questionable.
To the credit of the other 25 players on the Lions’ defense, they’ve managed just fine getting to the quarterback in Ansah’s absence. The Lions have recorded four sacks in each of their last two games. Five different players have recorded a multi-sack game for them this season. Detroit’s 21.0 sacks are the fourth most in the league, and they have four players with at least 3.0 sacks on the season – linebacker Devon Kennard (5.0), defensive end Romeo Okwara (4.0), linebacker Jarrad Davis (3.0) and linebacker Eli Harold (3.0).
Seattle has allowed 19 sacks this season, tied for 20th in the NFL.