The Detroit Lions (1-3) look for their second win of the season later today in Jacksonville, taking on the Jaguars (1-4).
The Lions are coming off their bye week, which gave them an opportunity to rest and self-evaluate. They now kick off a stretch of 12 straight weeks of football. It's also the start of the second quarter of their season, and they'll be looking to begin it on a good note with their second road victory of the season (Week 3 in Arizona).
Here are five things to watch out for in today's contest:
1. DEFENSIVE FIXES
The Lions rank 28th in total defense and last against the run, allowing 170.3 rushing yards per game. Their inability to consistently stop the run this season had led to other deficiencies on defense, particularly with their pass rush, so stopping the run has been a big focus on defense over the bye week and in preparing for the Jaguars this week.
Jacksonville has the league's 18th ranked offense overall, but are one of only eight teams in the league rushing for under 100 yards per game (98.4) on average. Jaguars rookie running back James Robinson has been pretty good, however, when given the opportunity to run with it. He's averaging 4.6 yards per carry this season. The Lions can't let Robinson and the Jacksonville run game get established early on. Making the Jags one dimensional is key for Detroit's defense in this one.
2. RAGNOW AVAILABILITY
The Lions have not yet had all of their projected starting offensive linemen coming out of training camp play a rep together, and that could be the case again this week if the Lions don't have center Frank Ragnow.
Detroit's third-year center injured his groin on Wednesday, sat out practice Thursday, and was limited Friday. He's officially listed as questionable to play today.
The Lions have a number of options if Ragnow can't play, but none of them is as good as having one of the best young centers in the game ready to play in a crucial week where Detroit looks to inch closer to the .500 mark on the season.
3. STAFFORD'S PLAY
Quarterback Matthew Stafford has played OK, but he'd be the first one to admit that he and the offense have left some plays out on the field, especially in the passing game.
Stafford's 93.8 passer rating ranks 18th among qualifying quarterbacks. He's thrown three interceptions and his fourth-quarter passer rating of 79.3 ranks 29th.
The Jaguars' defense has some nice, young players, but as a unit they rank 29th and are allowing 280.2 yards per game through the air and 136.6 on the ground. The Lions need Stafford and the offense to play up to their potential.
4. OKUDAH AND HENDERSON
Detroit's Jeff Okudah and Jacksonville's C.J. Henderson were the first two cornerbacks off the board in this year's NFL Draft. Okudah went to Detroit third overall and Henderson six spots later to the Jaguars at No. 9.
Both have played key roles for their respective defenses early this season, and both have an interception to show for it. Okudah's been both a starter and role player early this season, but could be pressed into a starting role for the third time this season with veteran Desmond Trufant out with a hamstring injury.
Which top cornerback in this year's draft will have the bigger impact today?
View photos from the Detroit Lions' trip to Jacksonville for their Week-6 game against the Jaguars.
5. DIALING UP THE PRESSURE
The Lions are winning just 21 percent of their pass rushes this season, per ESPN statistics, which is last in the NFL. As expected, Detroit's five sacks on the season are tied for last as well.
Lions defensive line coach Bo Davis told reporters earlier this week that playing mobile quarterbacks early on, and not wanting to be undisciplined in their rush, has played a contributing factor in those numbers.
Detroit's pressures and sacks were up two weeks ago against Drew Brees, a pocket passer. Like Brees, Jags quarterback Gardner Minshew isn't a real threat to make plays with his legs like Mitchell Trubisky, Aaron Rodgers and Kyler Murray were. I expect to see the Lions go after Minshew today, and be more aggressive with their rush to try and generate pressure.