The Detroit Lions host the impressive Kansas City Chiefs this week in a battle of undefeated teams. The Lion Lowdown writers offer their predictions for this week’s game.
Bruce Walker (@smoke25):
Week four in the NFL brings the Detroit Lions what many have said will be their most difficult game of the regular season. The offensive juggernaut that is the Kansas City Chiefs are coming to town. The Chiefs currently rank third in the NFL with 33.67 points scored per game. The Lions are tied for fourteenth, scoring 22.33 points per game.
Defensively, the teams have each given up a similar amount of points, meaning that the Chiefs outscore their opponents by an average of 12.3 points per game while the Lions win by an average of two points.
The reigning NFL MVP, Patrick Mahomes leads the NFL with nearly 400 passing yards per game with a league-leading 10 touchdowns against zero interceptions. He has been sacked only three times and is carrying a crazy quarterback rating of 134.9 on the season.
The Chiefs excel at successfully aggressively pushing the ball down the field. Mahomes has had 8 passes that exceed 40 yards, twice as many as the next closest quarterbacks. Two of those—Aaron Rodgers and Carson Wentz—have already played a fourth game.
The Lions do not appear to match up well against the Chief’s strength as they rank twenty-second in the NFL in passing defense, giving up 269.3 yards per game.
While the Chiefs rushing offense ranks twenty-second in the NFL, it still averages 94.7 yards per game and has been both effective and efficient in supporting the pass.
The Lions passing offense is certainly not embarrassing. They rank just out of the NFL’s top ten at 269 yards per game.
They are also quietly doing it in record-setting style.
Detroit Lions Senior Writer Tim Twentyman reported, “The Lions are the first team in NFL history to have four different 100-yard, one-touchdown receiving performances (tight end T.J. Hockenson, wide receiver Danny Amendola, wide receiver Kenny Golladay and wide receiver Marvin Jones Jr.) through the first three weeks of football.”
The key word here is balance. Detroit has shown the ability to feature receivers that match up best against a particular defenses weaknesses.
The Lions actually rank slightly better than the Chiefs when they rush the ball, gaining an average of 98.7 yards per game.
Perhaps one bright spot for the Lions rushing attack is that the Chiefs struggle at stopping the run, giving up 137.7 yards per game on the ground.
Defensively, the Chiefs rank fourteenth with 21.3 points per game while the Lions rank a slightly better twelfth, giving up 20.3 points per game.
All of this means that on paper, the Kansas City Chiefs have a formidable offense and a defense that appears similar to that of the Lions. This seems to support the reasoning that the Chiefs opened at 6 ½-7 point favorites to win the game.
So, do the Lions stand a chance at all in this one? That’s a good question. Like I mentioned last week, they have shown tremendous resiliency this season in the face of adversity. They have also begun to prove that they can adapt to the needs of defeating a particular opponent.
The Lions are just starting to come to the attention of the national media after having beaten a solid, but wounded Philadelphia Eagles team at home last week.
Mistake filled wins: Are they flukes or the building blocks of something more substantive? It is difficult to determine at times.
During the first two games of the season, as an example, the special-teams unit was an unmitigated disaster. Against the Eagles? Jamal Agnew ripped off a 100 yard kickoff return for a touchdown. Then he added a solid punt return while the unit turned in a flag-free performance.
That doesn’t mean that the special-teams were perfect, by any means. They allowed a blocked field goal in a critical late game situation. Then, they were somehow able to keep that miscue from hurting them.
Resiliency. The ability to bounce back or adapt.
For every mistake the Lions made, they seemed to make corresponding play that mitigated the damage. Then, as you watch the team week by week, mistakes are slowly becoming less frequent. Rough spots are being polished. Holes are being filled. Flaws are being corrected. Jeremy Reisman pointed this out a few days ago while digging into Football Outsiders data.
I am still convinced that the model that the New England Patriots have proven to have consistent success is being productively used as a template in Detroit.
The New England Patriots have shown the ability to thwart the Chiefs strengths. New England beat Kansas City twice last year. And make no mistake: Head Coach Matt Patricia is quite aware of what must be done in order to secure a victory against Kansas City.
Reporters asked Mahomes this week about playing in a dome. Playing conditions were the typical subject. They largely ignored the Lions real advantage: The crowd.
The fans need to display the same resiliency as the team has.
If the Lions fans show up in droves, they have a real opportunity to affect this game. They need to be loud, not just before the snap but throughout. That way Mahomes will have difficulty in hearing the play call. Then, he will have a hard time in relaying that information to his team mates.
That will result in false starts, wrong routes run and turnovers. They can rattle the players and make Ford Field a place that no NFL team wants to play in.
If they can do that and the rest of the team does their jobs—from the coaching staff’s game plans to the players execution of that plan, the Lions will win this game. Conventional thinking says they will lose but I see this as a pathway to a win. If I’m wrong, feel free to call me a homer but if I am right—like last week—maybe the Lions really are on to something special.
Detroit Lions 24 — Kansas City Chiefs 21
James Gullett (@gullett_james):
The Lions are hosting a game that has about as much hype as I can remember this early in a season. Undefeated Kansas City verses our undefeated Detroit Lions, oh the anticipation. The Chiefs, like most teams the Lions have played this year, are banged up. They are missing their starting left tackle in Eric Fisher, as well as star WR Tyeek Hill. However, they do have the most electric player in football for the last two years in Patrick Mahomes.
Mahomes started on an impossible stat streek last year that seemed inhumanly possible to continue. However, he somehow as found a way to continue that impossible rate heading into week 4 — even without his star receiver.
The best way to beat the Chiefs is to limit the amount of time he is on the field. If Stafford and Kerryon Johnson can have long scoring drives and limit Mahomes to only 7-8 possessions in the game. It will give the Lions their best chance to win,. If the Lions have a few 3 and outs or have a few turnovers, that will give Mahomes extra chances which he will cash in.
I want to be clear, the Lions do have a chance of pulling this out as the KC defense is not very good, in fact, they are below average. But I do think that Kansas City is a top-2 team in the NFL. Unfortunately, I have to pick against the Lions and take the Chiefs. Picks aren’t about who you want to win, it’s about who you think is going to win. Humble brag — I am 2-0-1 so far this year.
Detroit Lions 28 — Kansas City Chiefs 31Follow here: