Lions Den: Rams Preview

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The Detroit Lions (2-3) will host the Los Angeles Rams (3-2) from Ford Field on Sunday at 1 p.m. on Fox.

Detroit is coming off a thrilling win against the Philadelphia Eagles and Los Angeles was defeated 30-19 by the Buffalo Bills last week.

The Rams rank in the top half of the league in passing yards allowed per game, so Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford could have trouble finding open receivers. Stafford threw for 180 yards and three touchdowns last week against the Eagles. He did fumble once, but Stafford was pressured a lot by Philadelphia.

The Lions’ run game is one of the worst in the league as they average 89.8 rushing yards per game. The Rams are one of the worst defenses against the run as they give up an average of 122.2 rushing yards per game. The Lions don’t run the ball a lot, but they might have to in this game to open up the passing game.

Lions starting running back Theo Riddick rushed for 49 yards on 11 carries last week against the Eagles. Zach Zenner got the second most touches with seven carries for nine yards. The Lions did sign Justin Forsett this week and he will likely be the backup to Riddick. Forsett had 31 carries for 98 yards before being released by the Baltimore Ravens earlier this week.

Lions receivers will be crucial in this game as they go against one of the better secondaries in the league. Detroit’s receivers didn’t do a lot last week against the Eagles, as Anquan Boldin led the team in receiving with 48 yards on four catches. Detroit’s number one receiver, Marvin Jones, finished last week’s win with four catches for 37 yards and a touchdown. Riddick had two receiving touchdowns out of the backfield as well.

Los Angeles currently has the 30th ranked passing offense and that will help the Lions out tremendously. Rams quarterback Case Keenum threw for 271 yards and two interceptions last week against the Bills so the Lions should be able to get some turnovers in this game. Detroit ranks in the bottom half of the league in passing yards allowed so a key matchup in this game will be the Detroit secondary versus the Rams receivers.

The Rams have one of the best running backs in the game in Todd Gurley. Gurley hasn’t had the best season, but he is turning things around. He finished last week’s game against the Bills with 23 carries for 72 yards and a touchdown. The Lions are in the bottom half of the league in rushing yards allowed per game this season so Gurley should be able to find some running lanes.

Los Angeles has fast, young receivers that could take advantage of Detroit’s secondary. Lions cornerback Darius Slay will likely follow Rams top receiver Kenny Britt. Britt has 23 catches and 356 yards this season. Slay could also find himself on Tavon Austin, as he is one of the fastest receivers in the league. Austin finished last week’s game with seven catches for 59 yards.

Keys to the game

  • The biggest key in the game will be the battle between Detroit’s secondary and the Rams receivers. Both of these units haven’t been particularly good this season and whoever wins this battle will likely win the game.
  • Detroit’s offense will need to run the ball effectively in order to open up the passing game. The Rams are not very good against the run, but they are great against the pass. Stafford will have to make big plays for the Lions and look for the newcomer Forsett to have an impact.
  • The Lions defensive line will be big in this game. Gurley is an aggressive downhill runner and the Lions front seven needs to make sound tackles on him. He is very dangerous in the open field and Detroit doesn’t want to let him get loose. Detroit’s defensive line has to fight through blocks and tackle Gurley before he gets to the next level.

Prediction

In the end, the Lions will win this game. Stafford will make key plays through the air, and Detroit’s defense will make enough plays to come out on top. The game should be close throughout, but I wouldn’t be surprised if someone pulled away.

Lions 27, Rams 20.