Previewing the Jets’ opposition: Detroit Lions

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By: Bent

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The Jets look to end their two game losing streak.

The Jets would have been looking at this match-up with the Lions as one of their easier remaining games a few months ago, but Detroit has momentum while the Jets have lost three out of four since the bye. Can they reverse their fortunes and stay in the playoff race with a win at home on Sunday? The line has moved back and forth all week, but the Jets are now one point favorites per DraftKings Sportsbook.


Jared Goff had a rough start to his Lions career, winning just four of his first 21 starts. However, the Lions are rolling at the moment as they’ve won five of their last six. Over the past two weeks, Goff has thrown for 670 yards and five touchdowns.

Goff’s ball security has been a big part of this, as he’s gone five games without an interception. In fact, he’s only turned the ball over once in total over the last seven games. Prior to that, he had nine turnovers in six games.

Nate Sudfeld is usually the number two, although recent practice squad addition Joshua Dobbs was elevated from the practice squad. Sudfeld hasn’t thrown a pass yet in Detroit and is yet to make his first NFL start.

Offensive Line

The Jets coaching staff has praised the Lions offensive line and they should be back to full strength this week with right guard Evan Brown making his return from an ankle injury.

The only injury doubt is center Frank Ragnow, but he practiced on a limited basis all week. Ragnow missed an early season game but has otherwise played every snap and is the Lions’ best run blocker.

Two former first round picks have started every game in the tackle positions with veteran Taylor Decker on the left and youngster Penei Sewell on the right. Sewell showcased his athleticism on a game-clinching first down reception last week but has a team-high eight penalties.

Jonah Jackson, a former third round pick rounds out the starting lineup at left guard. Neither he nor Brown has given up a sack yet this year.

Off the bench, Dan Skipper and Logan Stenberg have each started multiple games at guard but both struggled in pass protection. Kayode Awosika also started two games but he’s been ruled out of Sunday’s game with an injury. Matt Nelson is the main backup at tackle and sometimes plays as an extra tight end but former Jet Ross Pierschbacher has yet to play this year.

Running Backs

Jamaal Williams has been consistent all season and has over 800 and a league-high 14 rushing touchdowns. However, his production has dropped off over the past couple of games. Both Williams and his backup D’Andre Swift have seen their yards per carry average drop since midseason.

Williams hasn’t been used in the passing game lately, with Swift – who has 31 catches – getting those reps instead.

The number three back has been Justin Jackson, who has done well in limited action. However, the Lions just activated Craig Reynolds from injured reserve.

Fullback Jason Cabinda recently returned to the line-up after missing the first half of the season due to injury.

Pass catchers

The Lions’ top wide receiver is Amon-Ra St. Brown who needs just 102 yards to reach the thousand-yard mark on the season. However, DJ Chark has been stepping it up over the last two games with over 90 receiving yards in each. Chark, a thousand-yard receiver in 2019, has fallen off in recent years and made a slow start in his first season with the Lions.

Detroit can also throw Jameson Williams, the 12th overall pick in April, into the mix. Williams just came back from a torn ACL and had a 41-yard touchdown on his first NFL catch last week.

Another ex-Jet, Kalif Raymond, and Josh Reynolds are also reliable options with 34 catches each on the season. Tom Kennedy, who had caught eight passes in a reserve role was released on Saturday.

The Lions traded TJ Hockenson away at the deadline and made Brock Wright their starter at tight end. He has 13 catches while reserves Shane Zylstra and fifth round rookie James Mitchell have combined for nine.

Defensive Line

The Lions are a below average pass rushing team, led by April’s first overall pick, Aidan Hutchinson, who has seven sacks. Hutchinson, who also has two interceptions, is listed as questionable with an illness, but practiced on Friday and has said he will play.

With previous starters Charles Harris and Julian Okwara on injured reserve, John Cominsky is currently listed as the other starting edge defender. However, sixth round rookie James Houston has been a revelation as a situational pass rusher over the past few weeks, as he’s had four sacks in less than 40 snaps.

Second round rookie Josh Paschal has started four games but he’s been a disappointment. Reserve Austin Bryant also gets regular reps and Romeo Okwara saw action last week having recently been activated from the PUP list.

On the inside, Isaiah Buggs and Alim McNeill are listed as the starters. Buggs can be disruptive and is second on the team with eight quarterback hits. Benito Jones has 1.5 sacks off the bench. Veteran Michael Brockers is listed as doubtful but he’s usually been inactive anyway.


Alex Anzalone plays a full-time role at linebacker and leads the team with 100 tackles and six pass break-ups. Malcolm Rodriguez plays most of the time alongside him.

Derrick Barnes will also see some situational work but he’s been ruled out for Sunday, so Chris Board could be the most likely person to step up into that role. The Lions also elevated ex-Jet Jarrad Davis from the practice squad for additional cover.

Anthony Pittman has played less than 50 snaps but contributes on special teams, while Josh Woods is usually inactive.

Defensive Backs

The Lions have had some issues at cornerback this year but Jeff Okudah has had a solid season. Amani Oruwariye and Mike Hughes have both seen plenty of playing time and given up four touchdowns each in coverage, but they are currently listing Jerry Jacobs as the other starter. Oruwariye leads the team with nine defensive penalties. Hughes is questionable with an illness and – unlike Hutchinson – did not practice on Friday.

At safety, DeShon Elliott and third round rookie Kerby Joseph are the starters. Joseph leads the team with three interceptions and two forced fumbles. Tracy Walker had started the first three games but he’s now on injured reserve.

Will Harris is listed as a safety but also sees a lot of work as a nickel back covering the slot. Reserves CJ Moore and Ifeatu Melifonwu have barely played.

Special Teams

The Lions have had a lot of close games this year, with five of their seven losses being by four points or less. After struggling to find a kicker in the first half of the season, Michael Badgley has been a steadying influence. He made a key extra point to win the Bears game and a clutch field goal to tie the Bills game (although they still lost).

Punter Jack Fox, who also handles kickoff duties, has posted underwhelming numbers this year but only has two touchbacks. The 2020 pro bowler is a threat on fakes with three completed passes for 44 yards in his career.

Raymond and Justin Jackson have done a solid job returning punts and kicks respectively. Raymond has cleaned up his act since muffing five punts with the Jets and Giants in 2017.

In coverage, Woods, Harris, Board and Joseph have been their most productive tacklers. Pittman, Moore and Cabinda were all productive last season.

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