To say the Lions offense is shorthanded going into Sunday would be an understatement. They’re missing their lifelines in Kenny Golladay, Danny Amendola, and D’Andre Swift. A hampered Matthew Stafford will have an uphill battle in leading his offense to the end zone against the Carolina Panthers. Given the lack of playmaking options, that uphill battle may start with the backfield.
Bold prediction of the week: Adrian Peterson sets season high in targets and receptions
I wrote earlier this week about why Peterson is one of a couple names to watch (the other being Marvin Jones Jr.) for Stafford to lock in on given the shortage of weapons against Carolina on Sunday.
Peterson is on pace for the most receptions he has had in a season since 2015. With D’Andre Swift out on Sunday, Peterson and Kerryon Johnson will split the backfield. When Peterson and Johnson split the bulk of the shares earlier in the season, it was typically for Johnson to pass protect while Peterson got most of the touches.
If that continues into this week, Peterson will likely get the most receiving work that he has all season. Stafford will be missing his best deep threat in Kenny Golladay for the third straight week, meaning the Lions will be counting on Marvin Hall and Marvin Jones Jr. to stretch the field—whenever that has been the case thus far this season, it has been pretty hit or miss.
If Sunday is one of those misses, Stafford will be forced to look underneath as plays go on. While that usually means a shorter pass to Danny Amendola or T.J. Hockenson, Amendola is out and Hockenson is the clear number one receiver in the offense Sunday and thus will likely garner a lot of attention from the defense.
That means underneath passes will have a new meaning Sunday, likely coming in the form of running back dump offs. Don’t be surprised if that means routes in the flat or behind the line of scrimmage early and often Peterson. Kerryon may get involved too, but with no D’Andre Swift in the picture, it’s shaping up to be a busy day for both of them Sunday.