Game Overview ::
By hilow >>
- Another game with desperation on both sides – to be fair, the Lions have been in desperation mode for the better part of the past six weeks.
- The Jets fell out of the seventh playoff spot after sitting comfy for the first 12 weeks while the Lions have played themselves back into playoff contention by ripping off five wins in their last six games – the only loss coming by three points to the Bills.
- The dreaded illness tag is making its way through the Lions organization now, with Michael Brockers, Aidan Hutchinson, and Jason Cabinda held out of practice on Thursday due to the bug.
- Corey Davis has yet to practice this week while in the league’s concussion protocol – it appears as if he is headed for a missed contest here.
- One of the things to watch as the week draws to a close is the respective statuses of Quinnen Williams and Aidan Hutchinson, each of whom missed practice Thursday and are staples in the center of their respective defensive lines.
How detroit Will Try To Win ::
The Lions have been more two-faced than any team this season, leading the league in scoring over the first month of play, falling from grace for the middle of the year, and then putting on an absolute clinic over the last six weeks (winning five of those games). Furthermore, they have averaged an absurd 31.2 points per game at Ford Field (leads the league) and a putrid 18.4 points per game on the road. For comparison, the Eagles now lead the league in points per game at 29.7 and the Titans rank 26th in scoring at 18.5 points per game. Yea, the Lions are the Eagles (or Chiefs) at home and the Titans on the road. Wowzers. And, oh no, they play on the road this week – better bet the unders! Kidding… As opposed to thinking there’s something in the water up there in Detroit, might the poor numbers on the road be deflated by the goose egg they put up in Week 5 against the Patriots? Or maybe the six points they mustered the following week in Dallas? I’d think so, considering the Lions have played only five road games so far this year. They averaged a more than solid 28.67 points per game in their other three road games. So maybe, just maybe, those numbers are more matchup specific than they are home/road splits. Jared Goff has seen his pass attempts swing wildly this season but has averaged 39 per game over the previous three weeks in varying game environments, which plays a bit into the desperation narrative as the Lions appear to not be resting on their laurels, putting games away through aggression in the process.
The changing dynamics of the Detroit offense have not saved the backfield, which now operates in a somewhat maddening three-way, nearly even timeshare. No back has seen more than 51% of the offensive snaps over the previous three weeks, with all of Jamaal Williams, D’Andre Swift, and Justin Jackson playing at least 21% in each of those games. Williams operates as the primary early down and short yardage back, with Swift mixing in on early downs and sharing passing downs with Jackson, the latter of whom will also mix in change of pace snaps. It’s like a game of Twister, this backfield, I tell you what. And while I’ll continue with interest in Swift at his depressed price point even after he cost me a Milly sweat last week (do you even bias, bro?), the fact that he’s seen 31-36% snap rates in four of the previous five games has to give at least some level of concern. Those snap rates are particularly confusing when you consider that he was off the final injury report in the only game during that time that he saw more than 36% of the offensive snaps (51% in Week 13), but then came back down to 31% while off the injury report in Week 14. Shots shall be taken here, particularly considering the Jets have a stout run defense but utilize primary zone coverages that are susceptible to running backs through the air. The pure rushing matchup yields a perfectly average 4.39 net-adjusted line yards metric.
D.J. Chark continued his WR2 usage and snap rate against the Vikings last week, his second consecutive game above 84% of the offensive snaps. He went on to put up at least 94 yards and a touchdown in each of those games, operating as the primary downfield threat in this sneakily favorable pass offense. As we touched on above, the Lions have thrown caution to the wind over the previous three weeks, averaging 39 pass attempts per game during that span, and, more importantly, generating their own aggression (without waiting to react to the game environment – it’s almost as if the staff realized their defense is trash and they have to score points to win… weird). That leaves Amon-Ra St. Brown and Chark as the near every-down pass-catchers with Josh Reynolds relegated to a secondary role. Reynolds is the player whose snap rate and involvement is most closely tied to the amount of heavy sets the Lions choose to incorporate on a weekly basis, meaning he should see fluctuating snap rates between 60% and 80% for the remainder of the season, save another injury to a Detroit pass-catcher. The matchup through the air is #notgood, but that matters less in games of true desperation (as we have here). As in, expect the Lions to continue attacking relentlessly as they hunt to save their season, with two primary pass-catching options that can do quick damage in St. Brown and Chark. Finally, expect the three-man rotation at tight end to continue, with Brock Wright, James Mitchell, and Shane Zylstra likely combining for close to 100% of the offensive snaps (as in, the Lions aren’t utilizing much 12-personnel recently and instead getting their heavy personnel packages through the use of fullback Jason Cabinda).
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