The Detroit Lions are looking to snap a four-game losing streak today as they host a Miami Dolphins team looking to keep pace with the rest of the current playoff teams in the AFC. The Lions are back in the friendly confines of Ford Field for the first time since Oct. 2.
Here are five things to look out for in today's interconference matchup:
1. SPEED KILLS
And the Dolphins have a lot of it. Wide receivers Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle are legit 4.2 speedsters and are No. 1 and No. 4 in the NFL right now in receiving yards. The Dolphins like to get the ball in their hands in a number of different ways.
Hill can take the top off the defense. Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn said not letting the ball go over their head is a big point of emphasis this week. But Miami also runs a lot of crossers and speed motions to get the ball in these guys' hands short and quick to let them use their run-after-catch ability to make big plays. Detroit has to challenge Hill and Waddle at the line of scrimmage to disrupt them.
2. GOFF BOUNCE BACK
Through the first four games of the season when Detroit was among the top scoring and total offensive teams in the NFL, quarterback Jared Goff completed 92 of 151 passes for 1,126 yards with 11 touchdowns and three interceptions, good for a 99.9 passer rating.
Over the last two games in which Detroit failed to score a touchdown vs. New England and Dallas, Goff was 40-of-61 passing for 518 yards with no touchdowns, three interceptions and a 71.6 rating.
Goff has been a little turnover prone and his pocket awareness fundamentals have slipped a bit, which has been a focus for him and Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson this week.
The Lions need to score points to keep up with the Dolphins, and that means Goff is going to have to play more like he did the first month of the season than he has in Detroit's last two contests.
3. STRENGTH ON STRENGTH
The Lions have been a consistently good running football team all season long, averaging 145.7 yards per game. Lions head coach Dan Campbell wants that to be this offense's identity. The Lions are fifth in the NFL with a 5.3-yard average per rush and have seven rushing touchdowns on the year.
Miami's strength on defense has been their run defense. The Dolphins are stout upfront and play a 3-4 read and react game. They're hard to move off the ball. Miami's only allowing 103.3 rushing yards per game to opponents, which ranks seventh best in the NFL.
Can the Lions establish the run, get chunk plays and open up the play action to get some of the explosiveness back in this offense?
4. SWIFT RETURN
The Lions have been without dynamic running back D’Andre Swift for three games due to a shoulder injury, but he's really been limited since Week 1 when he suffered an ankle injury in the loss to Philadelphia.
Swift had a week of full practice and is ready to go today. He's averaging over 100 scrimmage yards per game this season and 8.6 yards per rush. He's got the most yards before contact per rushing attempt (4.1) by any running back in the NFL this season. He's one of Detroit's top mismatch weapons.
5. HOME DEBUT
Rookie defensive lineman Josh Paschal didn't light up the stat sheet in his NFL debut in Dallas last week, but if you watch the film, it's hard to miss his impact on the defense.
Paschal played 56 snaps, which is pretty remarkable considering he missed all of training camp and the first five weeks of the season rehabbing from sports hernia surgery. He notched two tackles, but was also a big factor in a number of teammates making plays by penetrating and stringing out plays as ball carriers tried to avoid him. He sped up Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott's clock a couple times with some good rushes.
Paschal gives this defense a strong pass rusher with versatility and he's just going to continue to get better the more he plays. Can Paschal make another big impact in his Ford Field debut today?