The Patriots will be across the field from a familiar face Sunday night, as they face off against the Detroit Lions in Detroit for the third game of the regular season. They’ll be trying to bounce back from a loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Lions are coached by former Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia, who spent 14 seasons with the Pats. He will once again be leading a defense against Tom Brady, who has played well in both games so far; Brady threw for two and three touchdowns in those games, respectively.
SCORE: Patriots 10, Lions 26 (FINAL)
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But the defense Patricia will lead is not what he’d like to see. The Lions defense has been ineffective at best so far this season, giving up a league-worst 359 rushing yards and tying for worst points against at 78 (a tie with the Buffalo Bills). They’ve lost both games in their season so far: a 48-17 rout by the New York Jets, and a 30-27 game against San Francisco where the Lions led only briefly. Their passing defense has struggled as well, allowing opponents to complete passes on over 72% of their throws.
However, that doesn’t mean that the Patriots can expect to walk over the Lions. Teams that are successful against Tom Brady are those that can disrupt and pressure the quarterback, and the Lions have been able to do that effectively; Lions pass-rushers have registered eight sacks, tied for fourth in the league. The Patriots defense has been less than stellar as well, as they’ve struggled to settle in this season. They’ll also be missing starters Trey Flowers, Patrick Chung, and Eric Rowe. Against veteran gunslinger Matthew Stafford, the defense will need to be on its toes to keep the Lions from potentially breaking out.
Also in question: whether Brady will have a chance to throw to his newest receiver, the oft-troubled Josh Gordon, whom the Patriots received in a trade from the Browns. As of 4:15pm, Gordon is listed as questionable to play Sunday. If he plays, he’ll be a major new threat in the Patriots offense, allowing Brady and company to stretch the field and attempt some deep passes.
Expect Bill Belichick and Tom Brady to open up the offense in this match. Letting the Patriots stable of running backs loose against the Lions’ weak run defense will likely ease the defensive pressure on Brady. Also look for quick passes and screens to the Patriot’s shifty receivers and running backs like Julian Edelman and James White for the same purpose – and if the Lions defense breaks against the run, expect the Pats to break out some play-action passes down the field.