The Detroit Lions are trying desperately to break an elongated losing streak and finish the season strong, but that could be tough duty against the Tampa bay Buccaneers, especially given how good the Buccaneers have been lately.
Tampa has been riding high on a three game winning streak, and the Lions have to play their best game of the season to this point to break it. It won’t be easy, but there will be several matchups that go about determining whether or not the team will be able to get this done.
Which matchups will tell the biggest story about if the Lions can win or not? Here’s a look at the top matchups for the game which are likely to decide the outcome this week.
Lions Defensive Front vs. Buccaneers Running Backs
The Lions haven’t measured up in terms of stopping the run much of this season, and that could be tough news for this affair given what the Buccaneers are able to do up front. This year, their duo of Peyton Barber and Ronald Jones has combined to rush for 948 yards and 11 touchdowns. As a whole, the Buccaneers are good at running the football, and even have a quarterback that can get after it on the ground in Jameis Winston. This will be a big challenge for the Lions to stop a team that loves to pound the ball with authority.
Darius Slay vs. Chris Godwin
With Mike Evans likely out for this game, one would expect Slay to draw the assignment on Godwin this week, as both of those guys are elite players. Not having two top wideouts will play to Detroit’s advantage, but Godwin is absolutely no slouch either. The Lions haven’t been winning a ton of one on one matchups in the second level, but Slay is always capable of measuring up. This week, the youngster gets his shot to prove he can beat one of the best defenders in the league. It could be the matchup that decides the game considering everything else.
Lions Offensive Line vs. Shaquil Barrett
Barrett has been such an eye opener at linebacker for the team he’s been hard to miss. With 15 sacks, it’s obvious Barrett is one of the better rushers in the entire league this season which has been huge for Tampa Bay. The Lions have not protected the pocket well in recent weeks, and knowing this, Barrett could feast in this matchup. He’s been one of the best players in the league this season and close to unblockable. That’s bad news for the Lions, who will need to try and stop him if they want a chance to move the ball and win the game. It’s on the offensive line to be able to step up and play better in a big matchup.
Detroit’s Defensive Front vs. Jameis Winston
The Buccaneers have struggled at quarterback with turnovers, but Winston has been productive enough this season with over 4,000 yards passing and 26 touchdowns. Detroit can’t pressure anybody in the pocket and Winston can extend plays, so it will be vital for them to get any type of pressure on him. The Lions have to get home on some sacks, and Winston is the type of quarterback who can make mistakes in the pocket. This means names like Trey Flowers, Romeo Okwara and company will need to be engaged start to finish for Detroit to have a chance. It’s a big ask given how bad the Lions’ defense has been, but the group must come up with a big finish to the season.
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