Normally, this would be the piece where I tell you about the five key Detroit Lions players to victory for Sunday’s game against Washington. However, let’s not sugarcoat this. Wins aren’t all that important anymore. Sure, they may provide some optimism going into 2020 and, yes, it may give some players a tad of confidence in the coaching staff. However, the actual win itself would be mostly inconsequential.
So, instead, let me try to convince you to watch the game. While there are no stakes, and it may literally be the worst game on the Week 12 schedule, as Lions fans, there are a certain amount of storylines that are at least a little intriguing. And as I always say, football is better than no football. So here are four reasons to watch Lions vs. Washington.
The debut of Austin Bryant
This week the Lions activated their fourth-round pick after the defensive end spent the first 11 weeks of the season on injured reserve. With Trey Flowers out and a laundry list of other players injured, Bryant is almost certainly going to be active this week against Washington.
For a team that is desperately seeking some pass-rushing ability, Bryant may be the key for optimism in this unit going forward. While Bryant is most likely best served in Devon Kennard’s role at linebacker, he has a unique body type that will likely see him get some playing time with his hand in the dirt. We’ll get a ton of Romeo Okwara this week, but don’t be surprised to see Bryant get a good chunk of playing time, too.
Can Bo Scarbrough repeat his performance?
Speaking of NFL debuts, last week running back Bo Scarbrough impressed as the Lions’ starting running back against the Cowboys. Though his final statline is quite modest—14 rushes, 55 yards, 1 TD—the way he ran was impressive. He rarely went down after first contact and showed he could be a potential red zone weapon.
He has a good chance to build on that performance this week, as Washington’s defense ranks 21st in run defense DVOA. They also rank just 19th in power rushing situations, giving Scarbrough the opportunity to showcase his strength and balance this week.
Detroit will head into 2020 with no clear front-runner for the backup running back spot, but if Scarbrough continues to impress, he’ll be a promising, affordable option.
More Amani Oruwariye?
No draft pick received more positive grades for the Lions this year than nabbing Penn State cornerback Amani Oruwariye in the fifth round. Some expected Oruwariye to be a Day 2 pick, and the fact that Detroit snagged a talented player in a position of need that late got fans excited.
However, the team has taken it very slow with Oruwariye’s development. He logged his first defensive snaps of the year last week against the Cowboys. But there’s a good chance we see more of him down the stretch. With Rashaan Melvin questionable this week, there’s even an outside chance Oruwariye starts on Sunday.
Like running back, the Lions will head into 2020 without a clear No. 2 cornerback. Many would love to see Oruwariye develop into that guy, but he needs the playing time first. Sunday would be a great time for Detroit to get a good look against a rookie quarterback.
The Kenny Golladay/Marvin Jones Jr. Show
For everything that has gone wrong this year, the one thing that has gone right nearly every week is the play of Detroit’s wide receivers. It seems every game we see either Kenny Golladay or Marvin Jones Jr. come down with a highlight catch or a 50-yard bomb. Even with Jeff Driskel now at quarterback, we’re still seeing these two make highlight-reel catches on the regular.
Of course, we all watch football to see our team win. But at a very basic level, we watch sports to see amazing athletes do spectacular things. Golladay and Jones continue to provide that level of entertainment on a weekly basis.