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10 QUESTIONS WITH TWENTYMAN: Who could be a difference maker in Sunday's game?

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: There are certainly some good candidates with running back Jahmyr Gibbs, defensive back Brian Branch, guard Jonah Jackson, defensive back C.J. Gardner-Johnson and defensive lineman Josh Paschal all missing that first matchup between these two teams Week 6, a 20-6 Lions win, because of injury.

We also can't forget that running back David Montgomery left that game early in the second quarter with a rib injury and did not return.

Looking at that list I'd single out Gibbs, the dynamic rookie back. The Lions are at their best offensively when they are balanced between the run and the pass, and when they can control the clock with the run and put their play-action passing game to work off of it.

The Bucs blitz 40 percent of the time, third most in the NFL this season, and rank in the top seven in sacks. Detroit got away with being one-dimensional on offense in the first matchup (380 yards passing; 40 rushing) but that's not how they want to play at home this time around. Having a healthy Gibbs and Montgomery will go a long way.

20man: Just for a little context here: Kerby Joseph hit Rams tight end Tyler Higbee in the leg in last week's game and Higbee tore his ACL. Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford came up to Joseph on the field and called him a dirty player.

Defensive players are scared of being flagged, ejected and fined by going high trying to tackle in the secondary. Joseph was fined for a high hit recently in a game against Minnesota. The league wants to take the head out of the game, which they should, but the unintended consequence is the knee is back in play.

Lions head coach Dan Campbell was asked about Joseph hit this week, and this was his response:

"That's how we play football here. Just keep your head up, see what you hit. That'll always be what I tell Kerby. Just keep your eyes up so you don't hit on the crown of your helmet, and you hit a spine, you mess yourself up there. He's going for the thigh board and staying away from the head – that's how we play defense here. We're not dirty. It's just, we hit."

I couldn't agree with Campbell more.

20man: Why would they stop doing the things that got them to this point? Tamps Bay's 40.1 blitz percentage was the third highest in the NFL behind only Minnesota (51.5) and the New York Giants (45.4). It helped produce 48 sacks, which was seventh most in the NFL.

That's the DNA of their defense and I don't see that changing now. It will be up to center Frank Ragnow, Detroit's running backs and the rest of the o-line to identify where the blitz is coming from, have a good plan to counter it and allow quarterback Jared Goff to identify the one-on-one to attack when they bring it. I don't expect the Bucs to change their DNA on defense this late in the year.

20man: What is the Lions' record over the last four weeks when they've given up huge passing performances to Justin Jefferson, CeeDee Lamb and then last week with Puka Nacua going off? The answer is 3-1 and many in Detroit would say that should be 4-0.

Obviously, Glenn would like to see his guys in the secondary win more one-on-one battles and limit the explosive plays in the passing game, but Detroit's found a way to win despite the big receiving performances because they stop the run, and they've been much improved on third down and in the red zone. As long as that continues Detroit will have a chance to win Sunday.

20man: Houston's 21-day practice window was up after Thursday, and the team activated him to the 53-man roster and waived Julian Okwara. If Houston plays on Sunday, I expect a limited role in obvious passing downs and hopefully his fresh legs can come through with a couple edge pressures/sacks.

Houston has been out since Week 2 with a broken ankle. There will be some rust to knock off but hopefully he can jump in and provide some pass rush off the edge.

20man: Don't be surprised if we see the Lions play more zone this week and really focus on keeping Bucs receivers in front of them and making quarterback Baker Mayfield drive the field to score points. A couple times in the first matchup receivers got behind Detroit's safeties and the game could have ended much different if Tampa Bay would have hit on those.

I had T.J. Lang on my podcast this week and he talked about the Lions potentially playing zone in the back end even when they blitz. It certainly would be a way to help limit the chunk plays.

But at some point, Cam Sutton, Kindle Vildor, Brian Branch, Kerby Joseph, Ifeatu Melifonwu and C.J. Gardner-Johnson will be matched up in single coverage and are going to have to win more one-on-ones than their guys.

20man: That's where I think getting Alim McNeill back healthy again is so big for this defense. He gives them some pass-rush prowess from the interior and his ability to help push the pocket and not give lanes for the quarterback to step up has helped elevate the sack and quarterback hit totals we've seen from Aidan Hutchinson, who we'll also see rush from the interior at times to take advantage of some matchups.

The Lions have to go into this game liking the matchup upfront. Detroit's been good all year stopping the run and that will have to continue Sunday. Do that, make the Bucs one-dimensional, then pin their ears back and work on making Mayfield uncomfortable with pressure from the edge and up the middle.

20man: A huge impact. I talked about Gibbs above, but Branch is a big addition to have this time around. Glenn said Thursday his ability to disguise what he's doing from the nickel spot and put himself in position to make plays in uncanny for a first-year player.

Getting Branch and Gardner-Johnson back for this contest against those receivers is big for Detroit's defense.

20man: It's not over yet. There's still much more to accomplish.

That being said, Campbell and Holmes certainly deserve a lot of the credit, but I've always thought this is a player's league and games are won and lost by the players between the white lines.

For that reason, I say Goff. All the pressure he was under last week playing Stafford and his old team and to come out cool, calm and collected and play the way he did was impressive. There's no question he's the guy at quarterback in Detroit for the foreseeable future.

20man: There was one offensive coordinator Ben Johnson dialed up last week that would have been a touchdown had Goff not been pressured and sacked on the play. These two connected on a 45-yard touchdown pass in the first matchup Week 6, so maybe there's an opportunity again this week.

Goff will continue to look for opportunities to make big plays down the field, but he won't force a throw, either, as he shouldn't. It's a recipe that's been good for this Lions' offense all season as they rank in the top five in every statistical category.

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