Quote to note: "They know that he knows them very well. We know that he knows them really well. I'm pretty sure they're not going to come out in the exact same thing when he was there." - Lions RB LeGarrette Blount, a former Patriot, on the matchup between Lions head coach Matt Patricia and his former team.
Lions' D, in a rush: Nobody has found a sure-fire formula for stopping Patriots quarterback Tom Brady since he launched his first pass in a regular-season NFL game 18 years ago. Brady is the focal point for every opponent, and it is no different for the Lions.
It's no easy take, but anything Patricia and his staff can do to put pressure on Brady and force him into mistakes is critical to the Lions' chances of pulling off an upset.
One of Brady's few weaknesses is a lack of mobility that makes him susceptible to a strong pass rush. The Lions' rush came alive by sacking 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo six times in last week's 30-27 road loss.
A repeat performance – or something close to it – will give them a chance to spring an upset and give Patricia his first win as a head coach.
"Just watching film, he likes to do things a little different than traditional quarterbacks," said linebacker Eli Harold, who had one of the six sacks. "Ultimately, we've just got to push the pocket like any other week.
"It's nothing special. Push the pocket like we would anybody to make him uncomfortable. He can make a throw in a phone booth. We all have to be in one accord rushing him."
Series history: The Patriots have a 7-4 series lead and a four-game winning streak.
Home dome: Ford Field has not been an advantage for the Lions of late. They were 4-4 at home last season, and they began this season with a 48-37 loss to the Jets in their season opener.
Ford Field rocks when the Lions are rolling. It's up to the Lions to make it rock.
Lions O, adapt to change: Don't count on seeing the same defense the Patriots ran against Jacksonville last week, or against Houston in Week 1. The Patriots are known for a game-plan specific defense, tailored to each opponent.
"Everybody in the league sort of does some version of that," said Lions offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter. "They're probably one of the more extreme ends of that. They have been doing it for a long time, so you kind of prepare for what they've done. You prepare for what they might do.
"You have to be ready to adjust in-game to what they're seeing. If they're doing something unexpected, we should adjust to that."
Patriots' O, Gronk dominates: Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski can break open a defense – and a game – on any play. The Lions have had issues defending tight ends in the past, and none of them presents a bigger challenge than Gronk.
He has nine catches for 138 yards, one TD and an average of 15.3 yards per catch.
"He's a great, great, great player," Lions safety Glover Quin said of the 6-foot-6, 266-pound All Pro. "There are a lot of great tight ends in this league. He's big. Physical. He runs kind of weird, but he runs real fast. He's got great body control. He can catch. He's got ball skills.
"And Tom (Brady) trusts him."
Josh Gordon, personal view: Patricia saw Gordon at his best in 2013. He had seven caches for 151 yards and a TD playing for the Browns in a 28-27 loss to the Patriots.
"Unfortunately, I remember him running a slant route against press coverage and going about 80 yards for a touchdown," Patricia said this week.
His memory is right on. It was an 80-yard TD.
Gordon was traded to the Patriots earlier his week. His status for the game is in doubt because of a hamstring injury.
Prediction: The Lions started to come together in some areas against the 49ers. The offense and defense were better, but there still were breakdowns that cost them he game. They should be better this week. Expect a tough, close game, but the Patriots are used to those – and they win more than they lose.
Patriots 28, Lions 27.