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10 QUESTIONS WITH TWENTYMAN: Who is a player to watch the second half of the season?

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: It's a good question because last year around this time James Houston entered the scene on defense and made such a big impact down the stretch. The Lions could use a similar performance the final eight games of the season.

I think one name that comes to mind for me is second-year defensive lineman Josh Paschal. He played 54 percent of the snaps in Los Angeles last week and didn't record a stat. He's yet to record a sack this season. He dealt with injury at the beginning of the year but he's past that now and needs to be one of those players who steps up and makes more splash plays the second half of the season.

20man: Why not?

Aidan Hutchinson leads the team with 4.5 sacks and right now Julian Okwara is the only other primary edge rusher with more than a single sack. He has two.

Irvin had a workout Tuesday and head coach Dan Campbell said Irvin showed off a quick first step, power and the ability to bend, even at 36 years old. He's certainly not the player he once was but he still had 3.5 sacks last year playing about 54 percent of the snaps in 11 games for Seattle. He brings some veteran experience to the room with 55.5 career sacks. He's currently on the practice squad so there's no harm in bringing him in and seeing if he can still give them something as a situational pass rusher.

Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn said they will build some packages for him once he gets to get back into football shape.

20man: How important are those Week 16 & 18 games against the Vikings shaping out to be? The Lions are currently 7-2 with the Vikings right on their heels at 6-4. Those two games to end the year could ultimately decide the division.

The Vikings have games remaining at Denver, vs. Chicago, their bye, at Las Vegas, at Cincinnati, vs. Detroit. vs. Green Bay and at Detroit to end the year. Minnesota is playing really good ball right now with five straight wins and they'll be getting their best player back from injury (wide receiver Justin Jefferson - hamstring) soon. At Denver, at Cincinnati and the two games against Detroit are their toughest remaining.

My gut tells me it will take at least 12 victories to win the division and host a playoff game. The No. 1 seed is still in play with the 8-1 Eagles still having to play at Kansas City, Buffalo, San Francisco, at Dallas and at Seattle.

20man: Chicago has the league's No. 2 run defense at 76.0 yards allowed per game. The Los Angeles Chargers were No. 6 in run defense going into last week and Detroit rushed for 200 yards and three touchdowns. Detroit's offensive line is so good and their backs are playing at such a high level right now they believe they can run on anyone. I tend to agree.

20man: I think the offense is the clear strength of this football team and for me it all starts upfront. Detroit is top five in the NFL in rushing and passing which is pretty unique. A team doesn't do that without a dominant and versatile offensive line. I think they are top two in the NFL right there with Philadelphia.

20man: He's been pretty solid. He had a couple nice blocks against the Chargers while playing the most fullback reps he's played all year. I think his wrestling background really helps him with leverage as a blocker and he's certainly a heck of an athlete for that fullback spot. I'm still waiting for them to throw it to him. It's been a good move, and we'll see more and more of him there as his comfort level continues to grow and Jason Cabinda remains on IR.

20man: I think it's more the latter. This offense has a lot of talented weapons and just one football to distribute. Amon-Ra St. Brown is going to get his first and foremost. Tight end Sam LaPorta has proven to be a reliable playmaker. We are also seeing more trust being built with second-year wide receiver Jameson Williams and he's getting more opportunites.

I think the nice thing if you're offensive coordinator Ben Johnson or wide receivers coach Antwaan Randle El is the comfort you must feel with players like Reynolds, Kalif Raymond and Donovan Peoples-Jones in the room. They don't have to dominate the football, they are always in the right place, they do a lot of the dirty work, and when asked to step up and make plays they've shown the ability to do so.

Reynolds is still a big part of what they do on offense even when he isn't catching the ball. He's also still one of their best red-zone targets.

20man: I talked to David Montgomery this week and he is looking forward to seeing some old friends with the Bears and competing against those guys Sunday. Montgomery spent his first four seasons in the NFL in Chicago before signing a three-year, $18 million deal in free agency this offseason to join the Lions.

Montgomery loved his time in Chicago and is very fond of the city, but he also loves the opportunity he has here in Detroit running behind this offensive line and playing in this offense. Montgomery has been everything the Lions hoped he'd be, and even if he doesn't say it, I'm guessing there's a little extra motivation to put on a show Sunday.

20man: No trap game here. Not against a division opponent. If you want to win the division you better win the majority of your division games. Everything I've heard from the players and coaches this week tells me they believe this is a much better football team from a talent perspective than their record might indicate. They are taking this opponent seriously.

In terms of containing Fields, that's the big task for Glenn and the defense this week. Glenn talked Thursday about being disciplined with their rush. His big message to his players on defense has been getting population to the football.

Hopefully they learned a little something from the Baltimore game they can apply this week.

20man: It was a tough performance for the defense Sunday in Los Angeles but let's not forget that's a really good Chargers' offense and a quarterback in Justin Herbert who got on a roll. Tip your cap. It happens. Are there things the Lions can improve on defensively? Certainly. Do they need more from their pass rush moving forward? Absolutely.

We also shouldn't forget we are talking about a defense that currently ranks ninth in total defense and third against the run after 10 weeks. They are 20th against the pass, which is a huge improvement from last year when they ranked 32nd.

I think the one thing I look to is Detroit's defense has yet to allow one subpar performance defensively carry over to the next week. They've always been able to bounce back this year and this week will be a great test to that. I think the defense overall is in a much better spot than they were last year. They could get Houston and defensive back C.J. Gardner-Johnson back in December and hopefully Irvin can give them a boost too.

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