The Detroit Lions are looking for an advantage in the form of their bye week as they get back on the road for Week 10, and will be hoping some rest and relaxation can be the difference in finding an upset for their first win of the year.
As a whole, the Lions are stiff underdogs for the matchup, even though the Pittsburgh Steelers are coming off of a Week 9 loss on Monday Night Football. A short week can be trouble for any team, so the Steelers will be tested to be able to turn things around quickly and get their focus to the Lions.
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When the Lions get going this weekend, what matchups will be most important toward determining a winner? Here’s a look at some of the best battles to remember this week that will tip the scales for either side during this matchup.
Lions’ Defensive Line vs. Steelers’ Offensive Line
The Lions have not been prolific at rushing the passer this season, and their best chance to win this matchup probably revolves around putting some heat on the pocket and not allowing the quarterback to get comfortable. Detroit’s defensive line is looking a bit healthier off the bye week, so they are going to have to find a way to get after a Steelers’ front which has been pretty decent to start the year, but has struggled at times and left folks wondering if upgrades are needed. Detroit has only put up a total of 14 sacks, so it’s key to get after the passer in any situation. Doing so here while being able to better control Najee Harris would have to be seen as vital for the Detroit defense to have any shot at getting off the field.
Mason Rudolph vs. Detroit’s Defensive Backfield
Along with what happens in the trenches, Lions fans will be watching closely to see what happens on the back end. The team’s defensive backfield has played well this season all things considered, and now that Ben Rothlisberger is out with COVID, the secondary should be happy to see Mason Rudolph. If they can find a way to get a few takeaways and hold serve in the matchup against a backup who doesn’t play much it would be a big development. Rudolph has thrown just 15 touchdowns to 10 interceptions in his career. While it might not seem like there is a big drop from him to Rothlisberger, there is. The Lions will have to find a way to take advantage.
D’Andre Swift vs. Steelers’ Linebackers
As usual, Detroit’s best chance to make some plays in this game revolves around getting Swift the ball. He’s been a capable receiver this season, and as with most matchups, that is where the Steelers will have to watch out the most. Swift can’t do it all for the Lions, but he will have to generate a lot of offense in order to help push the team this week. Pittsburgh has solid linebacker play, and they will have to rely on it to shut down what is the best weapon the Lions have to offer on offense right now.
Steelers’ Defensive Line vs. Lions’ Offensive Line
Jared Goff might have to be ready for a tough afternoon in terms of getting hit. The Lions’ offensive front figures to get Taylor Decker back, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be an easy day for the team. T.J. Watt will do most of the damage given his 11.5 sacks on the year, but he’s far from a one man wrecking crew up front. Cameron Heyward has 2.5 sacks to his credit and cannot be taken lightly, either. The same can be said for Devin Bush. The Lions have had offensive line issues this season, so finding a way to win this battle will involve keeping Goff upright and out of trouble. Given the firepower they’re dealing with, that could be easier said than done for the Lions.