What to Watch For: Patriots vs Lions
Sunday, September 23, 2018
Joe Calabro, GoLocalWorcester Sports Team
The Patriots are coming off a 31-20 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars last week and are 1-1 on the season.
"If you go out there and you don't perform the way you want and you lose, it's - you want to get back out there, you want to play right away and you can't. But the one thing you can do is go out there and prepare and make sure you play better that next week. I think it's always been that sense of urgency around here,” said Patriots safety Devin McCourty during his press conference on Thursday.
The Lions enter the game with a record of 0-2.
“They play well. They're going to have a good game plan. They're going to scheme well. They're always ready. They've got good players, and we've just got to go out there and we've got to execute,” said Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski during his press conference on Wednesday.
Game time is set for 8:20 p.m.
Patriots vs Lions
Sunday will be the 11th all-time meeting between the Patriots and Lions, with New England leading the series 7-4.
The last time the two teams played ca in November of 2014 when the Patriots cruised past the Lions 34-9 at Gillette Stadium.
The last Lions win came in November of 2000, when they beat the Patriots 34-9.
New England has won the last four games in the series.
See What to Watch for in the Slideshow Below
Will newly acquired receiver Josh Gordon see any action on Sunday night?
Gordon was acquired by the Patriots this past Monday and practiced with the team starting on Wednesday afternoon, but has been listed as limited on the Patriots injury report.
"I think we're working at it. I mean, look, he's been here for a few days so we're working at it every day and every day you try to make improvements. We're out there - everyone who's out there is working hard, trying to practice, doing whatever they need to do to understand the playbook, to understand routes, understand how we do things. So we're just trying to work at it," said Patriots quarterback Tom Brady during his press conference on Friday.
When asked how Gordon looked, Brady said, "like an NFL receiver looks."
During his Friday press conference, head coach Bill Belichick added, "We'll see how it goes. I think Josh is a smart kid. He's worked hard. He's picked up a lot."
If Gordon plays on Sunday, the Patriots wide receiver position consists of Chris Hogan, Gordon, Cordarrelle Patterson, Philip Dorsett, and Bennie Fowler.
Corey Coleman was placed on the practice squad.
The Patriots secondary has been an area of concern for what seems like several seasons in a row, and it is again this season.
New England is currently ranked 23rd in passing yards allowed per game, and 23rd in passing touchdowns allowed.
Against Detroit, the Patriots secondary will have to deal with Kenny Golladay and Golden Tate.
Golladay comes into the game with 13 catches for 203 yards, while Tate enters the game with 14 catches for 188 yards.
Marvin Jones is the Lions third wide receiver.
"I think you play against a team with these three types of receivers that can obviously get behind you, catch the deep ball but they can run away from you and score. And, you look behind center and there's one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL. It's just a tough offense to play against," said Patriots safety Devin McCourty during his press conference on Thursday.
Lions quarterback Matt Stafford has thrown the ball 99 times so far this season, completing 61 of them for 633 yards and four touchdowns. He also has four interceptions.
The Patriots are facing former defensive coordinator Matt Patricia, who is now the head coach of the Lions.
Patricia spent 14 seasons with the Patriots.
"He knows us pretty good. Obviously, we know that defense, we practiced against it for a long time, so it'll come down to execution. I think he's a great coach. He'll have those guys ready to play. They'll scheme up a bunch of different things to keep us off-balance. We saw that for a long period of time," said Brady on Friday.
Under Patricia, the Lions defense is the worst in the league at stopping the run, giving up an average of 180 yards on the ground per game.
One thing that is different from Patricia's time with New England is that the Lions have been getting to the quarterback, posting eight sacks in two games. Six of those sacks came against Jimmy Garoppolo last week.
"There are similarities. There are different players and there are differences. You know, Matt's had six games out there. He had a lot of games here. So, the volume, the things that have been shown out here relative to what we have done here over that period of time - Matt did here - is quite different. Does he have those things? Yeah. Is he capable of doing them? Yes. Have they all been done? Not to this point. Will they? I don't know. So, you know, we'll figure that out," said Patriots head coach Bill Belichick during his Wednesday press conference.
The Patriots need to get off to a better start both defensively and offensively.
Last week, the Patriots fell behind Jacksonville 14-0 in the first quarter and 21-3 at the half and were unable to come back.
New England's slow starts can be traced back to the end of last season.
They fell behind in the AFC Championship game against Jacksonville and had to win it in the final minutes.
The Patriots also fell behind early in the Super Bowl and ended up losing the game to the Eagles.
The Lions are coming in with a record of 0-2, a fast start by the Patriots could put them away early.
With the Lions run defense ranked as the worst in the league, this could be a game in which Cordarrelle Patterson gets it going.
Last week, Patterson had one rush for five yards and was targeted in the passing game five times, coming up with three catches for 18 yards.
An embarrassing moment came on one of the passes when Brady threw to him in the flat and he caught it and fell over without being touched.
Patterson is not much of a route runner and so his role in the offense will be a question from week to week.