The Detroit Lions have found a way to make some key plays down the stretch the last two weeks in wins over the Los Angeles Chargers and Philadelphia Eagles.
It's Week 4, and the Lions host one of the hottest teams in the NFL to start the season as MVP quarterback Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas Chiefs roll into Ford Field later today looking stay unbeaten on the season.
Detroit's also looking to stay unbeaten to begin the year as they close out the first quarter of their season with a big test.
It should be a fun game down at Ford Field today. Here are five things to look out for:
The reigning NFL MVP brings with him the most explosive offense in football right now. In 22 games with Mahomes as the starting quarterback for Kansas City, the Chiefs have never scored less than 26 points. They've scored 30-plus points 15 times and 40-plus points six times.
Mahomes is completing 71.9 percent of his passes for 1,195 yards with 10 touchdowns with no interceptions. He has a quarterback rating of 134.9.
He's good in the pocket and out of the pocket, and can make every throw – sometimes without having to look at his receiver. He's simply the best quarterback in the game today.
It will be interesting to see what kind of game plan head coach Matt Patricia and defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni come up with to try and limit him and the Chiefs' explosive offense.
OFF AND RUNNING
It's been a slow start for Detroit's run game this year. The Lions are averaging 98.7 yards per game (18th) and just 3.4 yards per attempt (26th). It's certainly not for a lack of trying, either. Detroit's 88 rushing attempts are the ninth most in the league.
Watching the film, it usually comes down to one player missing a block or not doing his job. It's not a systematic failure to be able run it. The tight ends, receivers and fullbacks have to better too.
If there was ever a week to get things going on the ground, on paper, this week looks to be a good week. The Chiefs are 27th in the NFL against the run, allowing 137.7 yards per game. What jumps out even more is that opponents are averaging 6.2 yards per carry, the most in the NFL by far.
Detroit should want to limit Kansas City's possessions today, and a good way to do that is by running the football and winning the time of possession.
The Chiefs are probably the fastest team in the NFL on offense. They employ a lot of 4.4 and sub-4.4 speed. They use those players all over the field and like to go vertical with them.
Lions safety Quandre Diggs joked this week that the Lions' secondary better bring their track shoes to Ford Field today. The one player with legit track speed for the Lions' defense is cornerback Darius Slay, but his status for today's contest is unclear as he's dealing with a hamstring injury that kept him limited in practice all week. He's questionable to play today.
Slay is a two-time Pro Bowler and the best cornerback the Lions have. If the Lions are without his services today, the task of containing Mahomes and Co. becomes that much more difficult.
Third down is one of those stats alongside turnovers and red zone percentage that are usually key factors in winning and losing in the NFL.
Kansas City enters the game No. 3 in football offensively on third down. They are great at extending drives on third down, converting 54.5 percent of the time. It will be key for the Lions' defense to get themselves off the field today and limiting Chiefs possessions by being good on third down. Detroit enters the contest 25th in third down defense, allowing opponents to convert 45.8 percent of the time.
Offensively, Detroit's converting 38.1 percent of their third downs, which ranks 19th. Kansas City's defense allows opponents to convert 43.2 percent of the time (21st). Detroit has to convert third downs and extend drives to keep Kansas City's offense on the sideline.
MEASURING STICK GAME
Detroit hasn't played their best football to begin this season and yet they've found a way to win a couple games against teams that made the playoffs last year. Detroit sits at 2-0-1 facing a team today most think is poised for a Super Bowl run after losing in the AFC Championship Game last year.
The Chiefs are 3-0 on the season, and they're playing as good of football as anyone in the league right now.
There's a lot of football yet to be played, but the Lions are a team trying to find an identity early in the season. Lining up toe-to-toe against one of the game's best can tell a lot about where this team stands a quarter into the season.