Washington has struggled to start the season at 2-6, and that’s not much better than Detroit’s own woeful 3-5 record. It will be a battle of survival this week which will lead to one team feeling a bit better about themselves and another fading back further into obscurity as their season spirals out of control.
So what matchups will determine this game on the field? Here’s a look at some of the battles that are worth watching this week.
Adrian Peterson vs. Washington Defensive Line
Revenge is something that Peterson is focusing on heading into this matchup, so can he get it? This season, Peterson has only rushed for just over 300 yards with a pair of scores for the Lions, but he’s very motivated to see if he can make Washington pay for releasing him this offseason and allowing him to sign in Detroit. The Lions have been getting better play from D’Andre Swift, but motivation is different things to different people. Peterson will have to elevate his game if given the chance to do so, and with what he’s said in mind, it will be fascinating to see if he can get anything done for the team on the ground.
Detroit’s Defensive Front vs. Antonio Gibson
The Lions have been flat out bad against the run this season at times, which culminated in another lousy performance last week against the Vikings where Dalvin Cook went absolutely off, rushing for over 200 yards in the game. This week, the Lions will have to contend with Gibson, who’s a tough runner that is capable of doing the same amount of damage even though his name might not be all that well known in Detroit circles. Gibson has only rushed for 391 yards and 5 touchdowns so far this season, but those totals should have everyone in Detroit very nervous moving forward considering the damage he can do.
Terry McLaurin vs. Detroit Defensive Backs
Similarly, Detroit’s secondary has struggled mightily in recent weeks on the back end. Their tough run of tests doesn’t end here at all even with Washington’s horrid record. McLaurin has 692 yards and 3 touchdowns so far this season to his credit. This means the pressure is going to be significant on the likes of Jeff Okudah, Amani Oruwariye, Desmond Trufant and company as it relates to shutting him down. McLaurin had a big game against the Lions last season, going for 72 yards on 5 receptions and 12 targets. Expect him to be a focal point again, so the Lions backfield will need to raise their game significantly in order to compete.
Washington Defensive Front vs. Detroit Offensive Line
This season, Washington has 27 sacks to their credit which is a huge number. They are led by the likes of Ryan Kerrigan (4.5 sacks), Montez Sweat (5 sacks) and 2020 draft phenom Chase Young (3.5 sacks). They’ve also seen others step up like Jonathan Allen (2 sacks) as well as Jon Bostic (2 sacks) and Landon Collins (2 sacks). No matter where the sacks are coming from, it’s clear this is an active front that is capable of making life miserable on the opposing quarterback and offensive line. Young is especially dangerous given his fast start to the season. The Lions are going to have to be aware of this, and the line is really going to have to elevate its collective game. Matthew Stafford is going to need time to throw and make good decisions. Safe to say this battle could be the one which determines the outcome of things when all is said and done.