O’HARA’S FINAL THOUGHTS: Kennard looking for key plays from defense

Lions-Chiefs Final Thoughts: Linebacker Devon Kennard looking for key plays from the Lions’ defense; head coach Matt Patricia’s quote to note and Random Thoughts on short-yard success, Quandre Diggs making a play, Ford Field noise, sticking with my game pick and more:

Kennard has been a playmaker on the Lions’ defense with three sacks, five quarterback hits and a fumble recovery in the first three games.

Kennard and his teammates need to make plays like that – and more -- to slow down the Chiefs’ offense. It’s the toughest challenge the Lions have faced so far, especially with a quarterback like Patrick Mahomes whose production matches the hype.

The Lions need to fill up the stats sheet in every positive category.

“When you’re playing against a very explosive offense with talent all over the field, you need as many plays as you can make,” Kennard said. “As many turnovers, as many three and outs, as much field position as you can own – it all counts.”

Mahomes offers a different set of problems than any quarterback the Lions will face this season because of his ability to deliver the ball under pressure, and from a variety of arm angles. He even throws no-look passes – look one way, throw another.

“You’ve got to expect him to make some plays,” Kennard said. “They’re really explosive, with a big offense. It’s about not making it easy on them and trying to challenge them as much as we can, and making it hard on them.

“We’ve been able to make some good plays late in the game, which is very encouraging. We have to keep it up through four quarters.

“It’s going to take our best effort this week.”

Quote to note, Lions head coach Matt Patricia: “If you love football, where would you rather be than one o’clock in our stadium?”

Random Thoughts:

The hardest yard: The Lions have had problems running the ball, but there was no lack of grit on a crucial goal-to-go series early in last week’s win over the Eagles.

I think there could be some carryover from that.

Kerryon Johnson ran the ball three straight times from third and goal at the three to get the TD on a leap over the line between left guard Joe Dahl and center Frank Ragnow. The o-line won the battle with tough, hard work, and there might be some carryover.

“The goal line is probably the most grueling plays in football,” Dahl said. “You know not everybody is going to get their block clean. That’s what we look forward to -- man on man, and drive him in.”

Center Frank Ragnow put goal-to-go blocking this way: “That defines the trenches in the NFL. Every short-yardage situation, that’s man on man, pure cave man.

View photos from Detroit Lions practice on Friday, Sept. 27, 2019.

Quandre Diggs: The Lions’ starting safety is a fan of Mahomes and has followed his career in Texas from high school and college. Diggs reads the passing game as well as anyone. It wouldn’t surprise me if he reads one of Mahomes’ no-look passes across his body and makes a key interception.

Dome field advantage: If Mahomes is bothered by playing his first regular-season game indoors, it will be the decibel count in Ford Field, not the climate controlled conditions -- 68 degrees with no wind.

A classic example of fan noise making an impact was in the Lions’ win over the Bears in 2011. The Bears’ offensive linemen false-started repeatedly because they couldn’t hear the quarterbacks cadence. Ford Field is tough on opponents when it’s rocking.

Scramble stats: The Lions’ defense can’t sleep on Mahomes’ potential to scramble. He hasn’t done much damage with his legs in the first three games, but the threat is there. He’s credited with a net of 10 yards on six carries, with a long gain of 11 yards. A year ago he ran 60 times for 272 yards and 18 first downs.

Sticking with my pick: Nobody plays a perfect game, so don’t expect one from the Lions, win or lose. The Lions’ running game should awaken in this game as a weapon, and quarterback Matthew Stafford should be able to spread the ball to his receivers. The Chiefs’ offense is special. It erases a lot of other weaknesses, and it should make the difference.

Prediction: Chiefs 26, Lions 24.

No change.

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