It’s already week 10 and the Detroit Lions find themselves in a major hole in the division. The Lions aren’t technically out of the playoffs, but if there is any chance for the postseason, it’s a must-win game. Here are the five key matchups in today’s game.
1. RB Kerryon Johnson vs DT Akiem Hicks
Johnson had no running room to speak of last week. He is still top-5 in the NFL for for yards-per-carry carry. The Bears have a great defensive line anchored in the middle by Hicks. Hicks has been a thorn in the Lions side since he arrived in Chicago and I believe he will continue to be in this game. If Hicks can help shut down the Lions running game and force Matthew Stafford to have to throw more often, it will give teammate Khalil Mack more opportunities to get Stafford.
2. CB Nevin Lawson vs WR Taylor Gabriel
With CB Darius Slay being ruled out, the Lions top option at corner will be Nevin Lawson. That is a scary thought. Lawson was able to relatively lock down Vikings receiver Adam Thielen, however, everyone is capable of a great game from time to time.
The Bears WR Taylor Gabriel is a very quick and agile receiver. He excels in running after the catch and will be a tough matchup for Lawson.
3. WR Marvin Jones Jr vs CB Kyle Fuller
Jones will be tested once again this week when he goes up against the Bears best corner in Fuller. The Lions big-money wideout will need to step up his game even more after no longer being able to rely on Tate to bring away some of the coverage. Defenses are now allowed to focus more on Jones — as seen last week.
Fuller’s having another great year as he is tied for the NFL-lead in interceptions with four. With the Bears D-line ability to create pressure with a four-man rush, corners are allowed to cover with help over the top. When they don’t have to worry about the deep ball, they can be more aggressive underneath and make plays on the ball.
4. RT Rick Wagner vs DE Khalil Mack
Wagner allowed three and a half sacks last week to the Minnesota Vikings defensive end, Danielle Hunter. This week, he will face a superior pass-rusher and Hunter was no slouch. A double team will be mandatory at all times, whether that be adding RG Kenny Wiggins or having a tight end help on the outside. Either way, something has to be done to give Wagner help or I don’t know if Stafford finishes this game.
5. DT Damon “Snacks” Harrison vs C Cody Whitehair
Whitehair is known for his run blocking prowess. The Bears tend to feature him by running right up the middle more than any other team in the NFL. If the Bears plan to run behind Whitehair, they may be in for a bad time. The Lions “Snacks” Harrison will be anchoring the middle of the Lions D-line and is basically an immovable force. He is leading all defensive tackles in the NFL in tackles so far this season.Follow here: