Lions-Redskins Key Matchups: Why Pass Rush Will Decide Sunday’s Winner

Ryan Kerrigan

Getty Ryan Kerrigan and Montez Sweat team up on a sack.

The Detroit Lions badly need a win to save some dignity as their 2019 season begins to spiral a bit out of control, and the good news for them is they have a decent opponent to get healthy against in the Washington Redskins.

While the Redskins have been competitive in most weeks, the team simply hasn’t put away wins and have struggled to get over the hump. As a result, they have a dreadful 1-9 record thus far this year. That record, however, doesn’t tell the whole story of what the team can do in several spots.

What matchups will be most important to watch this week in terms of deciding a winner? Here’s a look at the key ones to follow closest this week.

Detroit’s Offensive Line vs. Washington’s Defensive Front

The Lions ran the ball better last week with Bo Scarbrough doing the most damage with 55 yards and a touchdown. Other than Scarbrough, the Lions need to be able to keep the pocket clean for Jeff Driskel. Giving Driskel time has helped the quarterback be much better on the field at finding open wideouts, and he needs to be able to survey and find time to make big throws. Washington, for their defensive warts, has some talent up front and can sack the quarterback. Names like Ryan Kerrigan, Montez Sweat and Jonathan Allan create havoc, and the Lions are going to have to band together up front in order to survive this game. How well they do this could tell the story of how well they play on offense.

Detroit’s Defensive Front vs. Dwayne Haskins

Unlike the Redskins, Detroit’s defensive line has not done nearly enough to sack the opposing quarterback this season. Trey Flowers has been the team’s only consistent threat getting after the pocket, and when a rookie quarterback is playing, it’s up to a defense to find a way to blank them in a big way. This group has to force Haskins into bad decisions and turnovers. If they cannot, Haskins will have time to pick apart a secondary which has been dreadful most of this season. That’s not the effort the Lions are looking for up front, and they need to win this battle in the trenches.

Detroit’s Defensive Backs vs. Washington’s Wide Receivers

While Washington might not look on the surface like they have many offensive threats, there are players there that can impact the game in a big way. Terry McLaurin is the biggest example of this with 566 yards and 6 touchdowns this season. Other than him, however, the team has Chris Thompson (276 yards), Trey Quinn (198), Jeremy Sprinkle at tight end (156) and Paul Richardson, who may still be nursing injury. Detroit’s backfield hasn’t been able to slow quality teams and it will be interesting to see how they do with this cast of pass catchers. Theoretically, the Lions should be able to slow this group down, but stranger things have certainly happened. If they don’t win some one on one battles, it’s going to be another long day in the backfield.

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