Coming off their third loss in the first four games of the season, the New England Patriots’ schedule is supposedly starting to get a bit easier. The first game of that stretch will see them go against a Detroit Lions team that is also sitting at 1-3, but is featuring the best scoring offense in football (a unit that is getting neutralized a bit by Detroit’s 32nd-ranked defense).
In order to get a better understanding of New England’s Week 5 opponent, though, we exchanged questions with Mike Payton of Pats Pulpit’s sister site Pride of Detroit — the SB Nation community for all things Lions.
Here are our answers to Mike’s questions, and here are the odds for this week’s games from our friends at DraftKings Sportsbook.
And, finally, here is what Mike told us about the Lions:
1. DraftKings’ opening odds have the Lions as 1.5-point underdogs heading into Foxborough. What does Dan Campbell’s team have to do to pull off the upset?
They need to stop the Patriots from scoring. I know that seems like a simple thing to say, but it’s something the Lions couldn’t stop the Seattle Seahawks from doing last week. The Lions defense did not force a punt in the entire game. The good thing is that the strength of the Lions defense is stopping the run, the bad thing is that they’re playing against the best running team in the league. This will be a real test to see if the Lions are indeed good at stopping the run.
2. Did Jared Goff and Matthew Stafford go through some kinda Freaky Friday body switch? Or is there another explanation for Goff’s elevated level of play?
There’s several different reasons. One of the big ones is that Jared Goff got his confidence back. He lost it somewhere along the way in Los Angeles and near the end of the 2021 season, it started to come back. Plus he and new Lions OC Ben Johnson are on the same page. Johnson has tailored the offensive playbook around Goff and his strengths.
We thought the addition of some new weapons would make a difference, and it has, but Goff showed last week that he can still lead an offense to 45 points without them. Lastly, Goff’s offensive line is keeping him clean. Goff has only been sacked 5 times this season. At this time last year, he had been sacked 10 times.
3. DK Metcalf made his plays last week, but Jeff Okudah has started living up to his draft stock in 2022. What’s been the biggest difference you’ve seen from the corner?
Really the biggest thing is that he’s healthy and he’s being coached well. We always knew that Okudah had a great work ethic and that he would eventually carve something out for himself in the NFL because of it. Overcoming his injuries and playing this well was not what anyone predicted though. There’s still stuff for him to work on though. He’s far from a finished product.
4. According to Twitter, most of Aidan Hutchinson’s production this season has come from clean-up sacks. Is that a fair assessment? Or has the rookie shown flashes beyond being opportunistic?
Yeah, that would be accurate. Hutchinson is getting pressures, but he’s not quite getting home. There’s been some thought that maybe the Lions aren’t playing him in the best way so far. He’s been putting his hand in the dirt in Detroit. He had most of his success at Michigan when he was standing up.
The Lions mentioned that there would be some changes to their defense after loss to the Seahawks last week. Perhaps that’s one of them.
5. Hutchinson’s fellow rookie, Malcolm Rodriguez was one of my favorite guys to watch on Hard Knocks. How has he looked so far as the team’s top WILL linebacker (according to Ourlads)?
Rodriguez has been a huge surprise for the Lions. Many of us thought he was going to just be a special teams guy when the Lions drafted him. He blew that projection out of the water in camp and earned a starting spot in the Lions defense. He has not disappointed so far. He was the Lions highest graded defender in Week 4 and he’s been one of the leagues highest graded linebackers per PFF.
Much like Jeff Okudah, there’s still things for him to clean up though. He is still a rookie after all. But so far this looks like the start a pretty good career for Rodrigo.