The Detroit Lions take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this weekend in what will be a matchup of two division leaders. The Lions will have their work cut out for them, and here we’ll take a look at what they need to do to keep their current win streak alive.
What Lions Must Do To Beat Buccaneers
Convert on 3rd Down
For as impressive as the Detroit offense has been this season, one area they’ve struggled in is converting on third down. The Lions are converting on third down at just a 38% rate which ranks 18th in the NFL. Luckily for them, they’re facing a defense that ranks towards the bottom of the league in allowing third down conversions; the Tampa Bay defense is allowing their opponents to succeed on third down at nearly a 50% rate. It will be important for the Lions to keep their offense on the field for long periods and take advantage of a unit that struggles to get stops when it matters most.
Establish the Run
The Lions will need to establish the run early and continue to feed David Montgomery throughout the game. The Tampa Bay defense ranks as one of the best units in football and is currently in the top 10 when it comes to rushing yards allowed per contest. Giving Montgomery early touches will open up the rest of the offense, especially in the play-action game, and allow Jared Goff to connect with receivers such as Amon-Ra St. Brown who is tracking to play after missing Week 5 against the Carolina Panthers with an abdomen injury. The Lions boast one of the best offenses in football and have had early success on that side of the ball this season, but this will be one of their toughest tests yet.
Get Jameson Williams Involved
Jameson Williams debuted last week against Carolina, finishing the game with two catches for just two yards. It was a quiet game for Williams, which was expected, as Detroit plans to bring him along slowly following his suspension. However, with another week of practice under his belt and due to the opponent at hand, Detroit should look to get Williams on the field much more this week. Williams only played in 47% of the offensive snaps last week, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see that number increase this week. With St. Brown nursing the abdomen injury as mentioned earlier, he won’t be at 100%. And while Josh Reynolds and Kalif Raymond have produced in the snaps they’ve been given, Williams seeing an increase in his usage would be a big boost to the Detroit offense.
Force Baker Mayfield to Beat You
Yes, Baker Mayfield has been playing good football to begin the season. Yes, he’s excelled when pressured; entering Week 5 he had the fourth most passing yards and fifth most passing touchdowns in football when under duress. It’s been an impressive start for a quarterback who’s playing for his fourth team in three seasons.
With that said, Mayfield is still at his worst when getting pressured as we’ve seen throughout his time in the NFL. Detroit ranks towards the top of the league in pressuring the quarterback and if they can consistently bother Mayfield in the pocket, the more likely he is to revert to the quarterback he’s been his entire career regardless of how he’s looked through just four games this season.
Also, Tampa Bay has one of the worst rushing attacks in football, which matches up well for a Detroit defense that’s been stellar against the run this season. The Buccaneers are 2-0 in games they run for over 100 yards and only .500 when they don’t, so if Detroit can keep Tampa under the century mark on the ground, the odds are in their favor.
This early season contest will be one of the biggest tests of the year thus far for the Lions. If they can go into Tampa Bay and leave with a victory to move to 5-1 on the season, many will see Detroit as a legit Super Bowl contender — if they aren’t considered one already.
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