Last week, the Detroit Lions got heroic performances from Darius Slay, Kenny Golladay and Tyrell Crosby. Without the performances of those three key players, the Lions probably don’t come out of Week 2 with an upset win over the Los Angeles Chargers.
On Sunday, they, again, will be the underdogs, except this time they’ll be on the road at Philadelphia to take on the 1-1 Eagles. Here’s who they’ll need to shine on Sunday to pull of their second-straight upset.
Johnson has had a bit of a slow start to the season, with just 90 rushing yards on 3.2 yards per carry. The Eagles will be missing two of their top defensive tackles on Sunday, creating the opportunity for Johnson to break out again.
However, Johnson may be more important this week as a pass protector. With C.J. Anderson gone, there’s a good chance Johnson sees a slight uptick in playing time, and with an aggressive Eagles defense on the other side of the ball, Johnson’s ability to pick up disguised blitzes will be key this week.
One of the tenants of a Matt Patricia defense is a focus on taking away a team’s biggest weapon. With DeSean Jackson out and Alshon Jeffery limited at best, tight end Zach Ertz will undoubtedly be the Eagles’ biggest offensive weapon on Sunday.
It’s not clear how exactly the Lions will deal with Ertz, but for a tight end that can really attack the middle of the field, safeties will play a big part in stopping Ertz this week. Walker has already proven to be a playmaker in his second year, but he’s also given up a big play or two. Containing Ertz should be this defense’s top priority, and it could be a big challenge for the young safety.
Stafford is a key player every week with this football team, especially with their rediscovery of the long ball.
However, I chose Stafford this week, because he still has a lot of doubters out there, and if he can outduel Carson Wentz on the road, it’ll go a long ways to earn respect this week.
Consider, for a moment, this column from Philly this year: Can Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz avoid being the next Matt Stafford?
This is how the national media perceives Stafford: A pretty good quarterback that can’t win big games. Beat Wentz on the road, string together a few wins, and maybe that narrative changes.
We all saw last week the kind of mistakes Wentz is capable of when pressured. The Eagles’ offensive line is pretty impressive, especially with franchise left tackle Jason Peters protecting Wentz blind side.
It’s been a pretty slow start for Flowers, the $90 million man Detroit signed in free agency. His snap count is low and his production has been limited. This is the perfect week for Flowers to break out and prove the early doubters wrong. If Flowers can generate a few pressures this week against an All-Pro talent, he’ll have earned a lot of confidence from the Lions and their fans.
Golladay’s performance last week was nothing new for Detroit’s No. 1 receiver. However, the one thing we haven’t seen from Golladay much is consistency. If he wants to become a true No. 1, those kind of 100-yard performance need to be the norm. Golladay only has four 100+ yards games to his name, and he has never done it in back-to-back weeks.
With Eagles cornerback Ronald Darby off to a shaky start, Sunday is the perfect opportunity for Golladay to show he can do this every week.