The Detroit Lions are going to have to play near-perfect football to stay undefeated going into their Week 5 bye. The Kansas City Chiefs are no slouch, and unlike plenty of teams in September, they don’t appear to be playing sloppy football right now.
That means all 22 starters and beyond are going to have to be playing their best football on Sunday for Detroit. But for these five players, especially, the Lions will need extraordinary performances.
Here are five players key to a Lions Week 4 victory.
Last week, Walker was key in part of the plan to slow down Eagles tight end Zach Ertz. Though he got some help with a second defender for a lot of the second half, in many cases, it was Walker on-one-one.
The Lions safety won’t have it any easier this week, as Travis Kelce is just as good and even more seasoned. With all of the Chiefs’ other receiving threats, the Lions won’t be able to give Walker the help on every down, so it may be up to him—and him alone—to keep Kelce in check.
A lot of people assumed that Walker was Glover Quin’s natural successor, but that man has actually been Diggs, who is playing free safety far more often than Walker this year.
Diggs will often be the Detroit’s last line of defense against this very vertical Chiefs offense. Kansas City has four more plays of 40+ yards than any other team in the NFL (8), and the Lions have been a little vulnerable deep this season, allowing four plays of 40+ yards (t-fifth most).
That’s not a good combination, so it will be on Diggs to make sure medium plays don’t turn into big ones.
It’s the worst kept secret this week that the Detroit Lions are going to try and control the clock and keep Patrick Mahomes on the sidelines. To do that, they need to run the ball, and this looks like a fully possible goal for Detroit this week.
The Chiefs own the worst run defense in the league by a wide margin when it comes to yards per carry allowed (6.2; the next closest is 5.4).
Johnson is off to a terribly slow start, and if he—and the offensive line—can’t get it together this week, then something is seriously wrong with Detroit’s run defense.
The most obvious game plan against the Chiefs is to slow down the game and run the ball a ton. But even those who have tried that strategy—and succeeded—have had to put up a lot of points.
A Patrick Mahomes-led team has never score fewer than 26 points in a game, which means Stafford is going to have to sling it sooner or later. This is the kind of game that needs to be mistake-free. No turnovers, no inaccurate throws on third downs, and at least a couple big splash plays.
The Lions would love to win this game by a score like 20-17 , but that’s very unlikely to happen. Stafford is going to need to bring out his gunslinger alter ego at some point, and he’s going to have to outduel Patrick Mahomes.
Yes, three defensive backs on the list this week. That should come as little surprise considering the Chiefs’ entire identity is their passing game.
Coleman is likely the fastest player on the Lions this week, as Darius Slay will either be on the sidelines or at least a little hampered by his hamstring injury. So it will be up to Coleman to stick with the Chiefs’ seemingly infinite amount of speed this week.
Coleman had a concerning start to training camp, but he’s rebounded in a big way now that the season is underway. This is likely the toughest challenge he’ll have all year, so a good performance on Sunday will go a long ways in giving the team confidence that they made the right decision by handing him a hefty contract this offseason.