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New England Patriots will be missing 3 defensive starters vs. Detroit Lions

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The Lions are catching another injury-related break.

Super Bowl LII - Philadelphia Eagles v New England Patriots Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

The Detroit Lions may not only catch a break with Darius Slay, who has reportedly cleared concussion protocol making him eligible (but not certain) to play Sunday night, but the New England Patriots’ injury situation could also help Detroit’s chances on Sunday.

Late Saturday night, the Patriots downgraded three defensive starters to OUT, confirming that they will not play. Defensive end Trey Flowers, safety Patrick Chung and cornerback Eric Rowe will all miss “Sunday Night Football.”

For Chung and Flowers, this doesn’t come as much of a surprise. Much like Slay, both suffered concussions last game, but neither participated in a single practice this week. Rowe is a bit of a surprise. The Patriots’ No. 2 cornerback was limited in practice all week with a groin issue and listed as questionable—while the other two were “doubtful.”

The Patriots’ defense has been struggling through two games. They’ve allowed 25.5 points per game (18th) and 5.8 yards per play (21st). Now they’ll be without their best pass rusher in Flowers, one of their best defensive backs in Chung, and some key cornerback depth in Rowe. Last week, the Jaguars were able to take advantage of these injuries and Blake Bortles finished with 376 yards, four touchdowns and an interception.

Matthew Stafford and the Lions offense haven’t clicked yet in 2018, but Sunday night is the perfect opportunity for them to get out of their slump. With Detroit coming into the game fairly healthy, there will be no more excuses for the sluggish starts and the numerous turnovers. We’ll see if they can rise to the occasion Sunday night.