Week 6 - Lions @ Jags preview
Time for Detroit to roll into Duval after a much-needed bye and time to reset.
This should be a game but sides believe they can win, with both sides struggling (1-3) vs (1-4).
Both sides are conceding about 30 points a game. Both team conceding more than 130 rushing yards per game. Having said that, on offense both sides are going above 350 total yards on average per game.
This has all the makings of a shootout (which is perhaps why in true NFL fashion I fear a 9-6 snoozefest but let's hope not!).
I took a good look into the most recent Jags game @ Texans to see if there's anything I could pick out in the ways to win for the Lions, and found this:
When Jacksonville start out a game (and until they're chasing a game) they primarily run up the middle, or use play-action (which makes sense if you're running that much). In all, 55% of 1st down plays were runs up the gut, and 25% were play action. That's whether in shotgun, QB under centre, I-form, whatever. Jacksonville are a run-first team with a fantastic find in undrafted free agent rookie James Robinson, who's gone for 333 yards and 3 TDs so far this year.
To win, Detroit must be expecting this on first down and plug it up. I'd like to see Penisini take more snaps than usual to combat this as he's been excellent in run defense (although as pointed out in The Athletic this week, him being on the field is a signal to the offense as to what defense you're in).
The other main thing that jumped out is that the Jacksonville linebackers and corners really struggled in general but especially on quick slants and crossing routes. They were banged up last week, and will be seeing Myles Jack return which will help, as well as the trade for Titans LB Kamalei Correa, but I think think this is something that Detroit should exploit. As highlighted by Sports Illustrated this week, Stafford has the highest drop rate of catchable balls in the league, and a lot of this has come over that area of the field.
Finally, Jacksonville's other strength is Gardiner Minshew. He's starting to see some ghosts and exiting the pocket too early and walking into sacks, but in general he's being very accurate in the short to mid-range area, and don't forget he was the third most accurate deep-passer last year! Improved play by the secondary is going to be key. Coverage has to be tight and alert.
Looking overall and very simplistically, both offenses are as bad as each other and Detroit's offense is better than Jacksonville's marginally. Therefore, I'm predicting a high scoring Detroit win, 43-37.
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