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Patriots vs. Lions preview: 3 keys to the game, fun facts, prediction

Ryan Hannable
September 22, 2018 - 3:06 pm

Teacher meet pupil.

This is one of the bigger storylines heading into Sunday’s Patriots-Lions matchup in Detroit as Matt Patricia will be going up against his mentor in Bill Belichick and old team in the Patriots.

Patricia’s Lions have not got off to a good start this season as they are 0-2 and allowed a total of 78 points in those two games. The Patriots on the other hand are coming off a tough road loss to the Jaguars, so the Lions are not getting them at a good time.

It was an eventful week in Foxboro with the addition of Josh Gordon and the team had a bit of an edge, an angry one with how last week went. It’s unclear at this time whether or not Gordon plays. He’s officially questionable with a hamstring injury.

The players and fans in Detroit already seem to be against Patricia, so he needs a win in a bad way.

Related: Watch every Patriots game season this season with fuboTV -- click to start free trial now

Patriots vs. Lions
Sunday, September 23, 2018
8:20 p.m., NBC
Patriots -7, over/under 54

3 keys to the game

Take advantage of poor Detroit secondary

Detroit’s secondary has been suspect and it could be even worse if cornerback Darius Slay (questionable) can’t play due to a concussion. Expect Tom Brady and the Patriots offense to take some shots down the field, as the Lions have allowed nine plays of 20 yards of more so far this season. Gordon could see limited snaps even just as a decoy to stretch the defense. We expect the Patriots to spread the field and allow Brady to pick the Detroit secondary apart. This should be the offense’s best game so far this season.

Keep Lions receivers in check

Detroit’s offense is one of the more underrated units in the league as it has some play-makers. Matthew Stafford is a solid NFL quarterback and then there are receivers Golden Tate, Marvin Jones and Kenny Golladay, who all deserve the Patriots' attention. They present some matchup problems, especially after Eric Rowe and Jason McCourty had some issues last week. The Lions’ only hope in the game is to connect on a number of big plays in the passing game and win in a shootout, which is easier said than done going up against Brady.

Avoid turnovers

New England hasn’t exactly been great this year when it comes to taking care of the ball as it has four turnovers in two games, including three in Week 1 vs. Houston. Last week the Patriots had a lot of momentum until Brady was strip-sacked early in the fourth quarter. If the Patriots take care of the ball they should be just fine going up against a poor Lions defense, but if Patricia can somehow force Brady and the Patriots into a turnover or two, it could change the complex of the game.

Fun facts

1. Since 2003, the Patriots are 45-6 in the regular season following a loss. As a starter, Brady is 45-10 in games following a loss.

2. In Brady's last 11 games on Sunday Night Football, he is 9-2 and has thrown 24 touchdowns compared to five interceptions.

3. If Brady throws a touchdown pass to a new target, he will tie Vinny Testaverde's NFL record of 70 different touchdown targets (regular-season only). Players who don't currently have a touchdown reception from Brady include Sony Michel, Cordarrelle Patterson and Gordon.

4. This is the Patriots' first game against a NFC North team since 2014. Under Bill Belichick, Patriots are 14-2 against the division.

5. Since 2001 in the regular season, the Patriots are 163-15 when leading at the half.


Patriots 34, Lions 24

We expect this one to be high scoring as Brady and the Patriots offense will take full advantage of a suspect Detroit defense, while the Patriots defense has some cleaning up to do after last week in Jacksonville. It seemed like a very serious, business-like week in New England and we expect the team to be ready to go. This one has the potential to get ugly for Patricia, especially if the Patriots get up big early.

Related: Mike Lombardi on OMF: I wouldn't have traded for Josh Gordon