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5 things to watch: Lions at Jets

It's a big matchup today at MetLife Stadium between the Detroit Lions and New York Jets as both teams try to stay on track in the playoff race.

The 6-7 Lions, winners of five of their last six, hope to move within just a half game of the playoffs in the NFC with a win. The 7-6 Jets have the same record as the No. 7 seed New England Patriots in the AFC, but tie breakers currently have them on the outside looking in.

It's a huge Week 15 game for both teams. Here are five things I'll have my eye on in this one:


Today's matchup pits Detroit's high-powered offense against one of the stingiest defensive units in the league.

Detroit is fifth in points scored (26.8), fourth in total offense (376.4) and seventh in passing offense (248.8). They're also the No. 1 team in the NFL in the red zone (75 percent) and top 10 on third down.

The Jets come in at No. 6 in points allowed (18.7), third in total defense (301.2) and fourth against the pass (189.4).

The strength of both units are their lines. Whoever affects the game more upfront has the best chance at winning.


Name a quarterback in the NFC outside of Jalen Hurts who is playing better football than Jared Goff right now. Goff has 10 touchdowns vs. only one interception over Detroit's current 5-1 streak. He's coming off back-to-back 300-yard passing performances with at least two touchdown passes and a passer rating north of 100.0 in wins over Jacksonville and Minnesota the last two weeks.

This will be the best defense Goff and the Lions have faced this season. Goff has just two touchdowns passes in five road games this season, and the Lions are 2-3 on the road. The Lions rushed for four touchdowns in their last road game against the Giants in this same stadium. Something tells me Goff would be just fine with that again, but if he plays as well as he's been playing, the Lions will be tough to beat.


Quarterback Mike White has not been cleared for contact after he suffered a rib injury last week, so it will be Zach Wilson at QB for the Jets today. The former No. 2 overall pick was benched in favor of White after a Nov. 20 contest in which the Jets lost to the Patriots 10-3.

Wilson is 5-2 as a starter this season, but that's more a result of New York's terrific defense. Wilson is completing just 55 percent of his passes this season with four touchdowns and five interceptions. The Lions are plus-seven in the turnover battle over their last six games.


Jets defensive tackle Quinnen Williams is having an All-Pro-caliber season, but will he be available later today? Williams suffered a calf injury last week and was listed as questionable after missing practice all week. Jets head coach Robert Saleh was pretty consistent all week in saying that Williams was 50-50 to play.

If he doesn't play, it's a huge loss for the Jets' defense. Williams leads the team in sacks (11), quarterback hits (23) and tackles for loss (12). He is arguably one of the most dominant interior defenders in the game today.


Through 13 games, Detroit's rushed 371 times for 1,658 yards with a 4.5 yard average per carry and 19 touchdowns. It's their most rushing yards through 13 games since Barry Sanders was toting the rock in 1998.

But if we're going to nitpick, the Lions' average per carry has dipped below 4.0 in four of their last six games. There's also been a significant drop in the number of explosive runs. Goff and the passing game have masked some of that, but Detroit's run game might need to be a bigger factor in the outcome today.

The Jets are fourth against the pass and their 39.0 sacks are the fourth most in the league, but they are just middle of the pack defensively against the run.

"Speak it into existence, right?" Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson said this week. "We will run the ball well this week. How about that? Let's get that sucker going.

"We take a ton of pride in it. Our game plan always starts with the run game, and so, sure, it's been disappointing. I know the numbers haven't been there. Last game, and I think Coach (Dan Campbell) alluded to it, that's probably the least efficient runs we've had as a whole when you look at the percentages, so something we're conscious of."

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