It’s week 2 of the NFL season and the 1-0 Washington Commanders will be facing a 0-1 Lions team in Detroit.
The Lions, fresh off an appearance on “Hard Knocks,” are led by second-year Head Coach Dan Campbell, who has endeared himself to NFL media with his unique blend of unalloyed, football tough guy, exuberance and highly quotable exhortations.
Detroit sports a much improved offensive line, with center Frank Ragnow back from injury and second year tackle Penei Sewell continuing to grow into the role. Running back D’Andre Swift was a one-man wrecking crew against the Eagles with 144 yarding rushing and 31 yards receiving last week, and will need to be at the heart of Jack Del Rio’s gameplanning. Jack, please don’t expect Jamin Davis to cover him. The Lions’ offense also features receiving threats Amon-Ra St. Brown, DJ Chark, and TJ Hockenson.
The Lions’ defense is virtually bereft of players with significant name recognition, other than rookie edge rusher Aidan Hutchinson (1 tackle against the Eagles) and standout college cornerback Jeff Okudah - drafted just behind Chase Young - who has yet to live up to his pre-draft billing in the pros. Last year the Lions finished with a bottom three defense, and there’s probably not a reason to expect a dramatic improvement in that standing this year.
To learn more about these and other issues, I asked Mike Payton of Pride of Detroit five questions about the state of the Lions and what to look for in this game. You can read my responses to his questions here.
1) What went wrong against the Eagles? What do you think the Lions could have done better against them?
The Lions biggest issue is that they just could not stop Jalen Hurts when he went mobile.
The Eagles were constantly able to keep drives going because of it and the Lions didn’t find a way to stop it until late in the fourth quarter. It’s a shame, because they otherwise played well in the pass game and there were some nice pass rushing moments too. The Lions just struggle against the run.
2) Is Jared Goff the Lions’ QB for the foreseeable future? If not, what do you expect the Lions to do next year to try to improve the position?
That all depends on Jared Goff. Right now he is in a position where the Lions are able to opt out of his contract after this season and if he doesn’t do well, the team could easily move on.
He’s arguably fighting for his chance to remain a starter in the NFL as well. He had a rough first half against the Eagles, but bounced back nicely in the second half to help bring the Lions back to within three points and give them a chance to possibly win the game. He needs to keep playing like that. With this offensive line and the weapons around him, he really has no excuse not to.
3) D’Andre Swift looks like the real deal. How much of his success is attributable to the Lions’ improved offensive line? Do you expect his platoon with Jamal Williams will continue as is?
The Lions have been waiting for Swift to pop since he got here. He kept showing flashes of it during his career and it seems like he’s finally there. The Lions offensive line definitely deserves some credit for opening up some big holes for him. I would also like to highlight his receivers and tight ends who have also been making some nice blocks for him.
Perhaps his biggest help has come from Lions running backs coach Duce Staley. He has been a big help to Swift and has helped mold Swift into a guy that is going to fight for every yard he can get.
4) The Fords have owned the Lions for almost 60 years, and the Lions have struggled for nearly that entire period. Why do you think there isn’t more anger about the Fords’ ineptitude among the fanbase?
The big thing here is that the Lions new owner Sheila Hamp has not done a lot of things that her parents did. She came in and got Matt Patricia and Bob Quinn out of town, she brought Calvin Johnson back after a bad break up, hired this front office and coaching staff that everyone is in love with and has helped bring in the NFL Draft in 2024 and Hard Knocks.
She’s been much more involved than her parents and she’s gone out to get football people to help build this team. Don’t get me wrong though, there’s still some Lions fans out there that are just conditioned to blame the Fords despite Hamp doing a great job so far. I get it.
5) What do you expect the final score of this game to be?
I think the Lions pass rush will get home on Carson Wentz this week. He isn’t nearly as mobile as Hurts is and we’ll see a better outing from the Lions defense altogether. Offensively, 25 points on a pretty good Eagles defense is nothing to shake a stick at. I think the Lions can come out and put some points on the Commanders. I think the Lions will win 28-24.
Thanks again to Mike Payton for taking time out of his day to answer our questions about the Lions.
Just saw this on ESPN’s scroller: The Lions, currently a -2.5 favorite vs. Commanders, have been an underdog for 24 straight games, the longest streak since 1966— Pete Hailey (@PeteHaileyNBCS) September 14, 2022
As of right now, Vegas has Detroit as 2.5 point favorites over Washington. How would you bet?
This poll is closed
Detroit wins by 3 points or more.
Detroit wins by 1 or 2 points, or it’s a tie.
As of now, Vegas has the over/under for this game at 49.5 points. Which would you bet?
This poll is closed
50 or more total points are scored.
Fewer than 50 total points are scored.
Check out all of the odds for this week’s game courtesy of our friends at DraftKings Sportsbook.