Skip to main content

10 QUESTIONS WITH TWENTYMAN: What's the key to securing a win Sunday?

Every week during the regular season Tim Twentyman will answer 10 good questions from his Twitter account @ttwentyman in a feature we call "10 Questions with Twentyman."

20man: I just think this group of players has proven all season they are a gritty and resilient bunch. It's a talented and versatile group on offense and they've proven to be opportunistic on defense (eight takeaways last three games) of late. Playing at Ford Field is a huge advantage with how electric and loud it's going to be in there. This team and coaching staff feed off that energy like no other I've covered.

Mostly for me it's the talent and experience upfront along the offensive line. The ability to run the football and protect the quarterback can be a winning formula in the playoffs.

20man: Can the Lions faithful get over 140? I think they measured Arrowhead at 142 for a record at one point. I certainly wouldn't put it past Lions fans with how long they've had to wait for this.

I was at the 2011 Monday Night Football game against Chicago when the Bears committed nine false start penalties and my ears were still ringing a couple hours after the game. If the Lions get off to a good start and give the fans something to cheer about, it has a chance to be something no one in the building Sunday night will forget.

20man: There are some similar concepts on offense with Vikings head coach Kevin O'Connell serving as Sean McVay's offensive coordinator in 2020 and 2021. Personnel is different, especially at quarterback after Kirk Cousins went down with an Achilles injury.

The big difference is what running back Kyren Williams brings to the Rams' offense. He's a patient and tough runner, accounting for over 1,100 rushing yards this season.

That garners respect from Detroit's defense. Lions WILL linebacker Alex Anzalone was very complimentary of Williams this week. He makes Los Angeles' play-action pass game and overall offense much more potent than Minnesota.

20man: I see what you did there with the four losses, but it's a good observation. Stafford is a pocket passer, and the hope is Detroit can collapse the pocket and pressure off the edge and up the middle. That's where getting Alim McNeill back is big for the Lions' defense.

Stafford has good pocket presence and a quick release. The Rams have allowed the fifth fewest sacks in the NFL this season with 34, only three more than the Lions, but with a quarterback who typically doesn't beat teams with his legs there can be little more focus on the running back in the run game and in coverage in the pass game.

20man: Good timing getting Brock Wright back if Sam LaPorta ends up not being able to go. He can make plays. We saw it down the stretch last year when the Lions went 8-2 to finish the year. He had four touchdowns over that stretch. James Mitchell showed up last week with that 24-yard catch. I think it kind of depends how the game goes, but I could see Wright getting a little bit more of the reps.

20man: The Rams are 7-1 since their Week 10 bye with the only loss coming in overtime at Baltimore on a punt-return touchdown.

Over that stretch they won vs. Seattle (9-8), at Arizona (4-13), vs. Cleveland (11-6), vs. Washington (4-13), vs. New Orleans (9-8), at New York Giants (6-11) and at San Francisco (12-5). Both the Rams and 49ers sat key starters Week 18.

Seattle, Cleveland and New Orleans are good wins against teams that were in the playoff hunt all the way to the end, but they played all three teams at home. Ford Field will be the most hostile environment they've seen since their loss in Baltimore.

20man: Jameson Williams takes punt return reps pregame, but I think the priority is offense where he started to come on strong in December. They'll certainly need him more in that capacity if they end up being without LaPorta.

I think when it comes to punt return duties if Kalif Raymond (knee) doesn't play, Donovan Peoples-Jones and Amon-Ra St. Brown have the best chance to fill that role.

20man: I expect the Lions to do exactly what they've been doing all year and that's trying to establish the run early to open up their play-action pass game. The Lions come in ranked fifth in rushing at 135.9 rushing yards per game. They've proven willing and able to run against the best run defenses in the league, and the Rams rank around the middle of the league in that regard (106.8 rushing yards allowed per game; ranked 12th).

Detroit has arguably the best running back duo in the NFL with David Montgomery and Jahmyr Gibbs, and their entire operation on offense is at its best when those guys are involved early and it's a balanced offensive attack. There will be opportunities in the pass game for the Lions too, especially if safety Jordan Fuller (ankle) isn't able to go, but first and foremost it's always the plan to establish the run. Everything they do is based off of it.

20man: Houston's situation is interesting. He's back to being a full participant in practice but I get the sense the coaches haven't seen enough from him at practice to feel like he's back to his old self or back to a point where he can help the team.

"Yeah, well look, Houston will be out there practicing, and we'll see," Campbell said Wednesday. "He'll be better than he was last week. Now how much is that? How good is that going to be? I don't know. So, I don't feel like – I'm not as optimistic about him."

Maybe he has a great three days of practice this week and he can change Campbell's mind. Maybe Campbell is just being coy about a potential return this week. Houston has another week to go before his 21-day practice window closes and they have to decide to leave him on IR or activate him.

20man: The explosive plays element is certainly important, but when I look at this game, I see two teams very similarly matched. I think a game like this comes down to the team that makes the fewest mistakes, starting with the quarterback position. Stafford has thrown 11 interceptions but hasn't lost a fumble all year. Jared Goff has thrown 12 interceptions and lost six fumbles.

This is where Ford Field can be such a huge advantage for Detroit. A miscommunication with a play call and route can lead to an interception. A slow reaction by an offensive lineman on a silent count gives the defender a step and an easy path to Stafford for a potential strip sack. I think this game really comes down to the team that makes the fewest mistakes, not necessarily the biggest plays, if that makes sense.

Related Content