5 things to watch: Lions at Seahawks

Both Seattle and Detroit are out of the NFC playoff hunt, but both teams are looking to finish the last two weeks of the regular season strong, starting today with their matchup in Seattle, and carry some momentum into a very important offseason.

Here are five things to watch out for in today's NFC North vs. NFC West matchup.

1. BOYLE AT QB

Starting quarterback Jared Goff missed last week's game in Atlanta after testing positive for COVID-19 early in the week. This week a lingering knee injury suffered in the win over Arizona a couple weeks ago will likely sideline him.

Goff sat out practice all week because of the injury, and head coach Dan Campbell said it was doubtful Goff would play during his Friday press conference.

That means Tim Boyle will make his third start this season. He was much better in his second start last week in Atlanta than he was his first start in Cleveland just over a month ago. Boyle completed 24-of-34 passes for 187 yards with a touchdown and an interception at the Atlanta 1-yard line to stop Detroit's comeback bid in the final minute.

Still, Boyle looked much more comfortable last week, Campbell said he had a good week of practice, and the Lions hope he continues his improvement in a tough atmosphere and expected cold and wet weather in Seattle today.

2. RETURN OF SWIFT

Second-year Lions running back D'Andre Swift returns to action today after missing the last four games with a shoulder sprain.

Swift is dynamic with the ball in his hands, and the Lions have missed his big-play potential. Detroit's passing attack has come to life over the last month, and it will be interesting to see how they incorporate Swift back into the mix. Swift was leading all NFL running backs in receptions (56) before getting injured. How will Swift and NFL Offensive Rookie of the Month Amon-Ra St. Brown complement each other?

Swift said his biggest goal these last two games is to try to get his first win with his teammates. He missed both games the Lions won last month.

3. ST. BROWN'S STREAK

It was a well-earned rookie of the month award for St. Brown after going four straight games with at least eight receptions and 70 receiving yards. He's got three touchdown grabs in his last four games. Even with all that production, he continues to selflessly put his body on the line as one of the best blocking receivers in the game.

Seattle's defense comes into today's matchup ranked 31st in total defense (385.5) and 31st defending the pass (270.9). St. Brown should get opportunities to continue to make plays against the Seahawks today.

4. DYNAMIC DUO

Lions defensive backs Will Harris and Ifeatu Melifonwu will have their hands full today with the talented Seattle receiving duo of Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf.

Lockett has 65 receptions on the year for 1,053 yards and five touchdowns. Metcalf is right behind him with 64 grabs for 846 yards and nine scores. They're looking to reach 1,000-yard receiving seasons as a duo for the second straight season.

Seattle does a really nice job with their stretch run game and with their play action passing game off of it. Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson is one of the best deep passers in the league, and Seattle will take their shots down the field to Lockett and Metcalf in one-on-one situations. Harris and Melifonwu will have to be on their A games today.

5. THIRD DOWN

In Detroit's blowout win over the Cardinals a couple weeks back, they were really good on third down, particularly early in the game. They were able to sustain drives offensively and score points on their first two possessions. Defensively, they forced a couple early three and outs by playing well on third down, and that allowed them to build an early lead and put the Cardinals behind the eight ball early on.

Both Detroit and Seattle have struggled offensively on third down for most of the season. Detroit ranks 31st (33.9 percent) and Seattle is last in the league, converting just 33.7 percent of the time.

Defensively, Seattle has been pretty good getting off the field on third down. They rank ninth in the NFL (37.8). Detroit is 28th (43.3).

Whichever team wins third down today will go a long way to determining the final outcome in this one.

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