Aidan Hutchinson came and went in the second week of the season, or so it seems. Leading the charge with a three-sack first half performance against the Washington Commanders, Hutchinson would finish that game with six tackles (including two for loss), three sacks, and three quarterback hits. In his three other games, he’s totaled six tackles and three quarterback hits, with no sacks to show for. With the defensive line struggling mightily in recent weeks, it’s time for Hutchinson to step up, and he has got just the right conditions for that to happen against the Patriots Sunday.
Detroit Lions Bold Prediction of the Week: Aidan Hutchinson posts 2+ sacks in New England
There are two primary drivers to this bold prediction — the mess on the Lions defense, and the mess on the New England Patriots offense.
The Lions are coming off of an ugly, ugly, defensive performance at home against one of the worst offenses in the league in Seattle. That had fans ready to riot, and Dan Campbell addressed the performance by promising changes to the scheme and the personnel in hopes of turning things around. One of the most glaring issues from the defense has been the disappearance of the defensive line since Week 2, and it sounds like that’s one of the areas of focus.
The Lions are adding some serious weight in the middle by planning to give Taylor, one of their heftiest defensive linemen, action against the Patriots. That should do big favors for the run defense, and hopefully pull some double teams on the interior to leave Hutchinson in one-on-ones Sunday so he can feast.
On the other side of the ball, New England is not looking very mobile. Quarterback Mac Jones is nursing a high ankle sprain that has rendered him immobile, and more importantly, doubtful to play Sunday. Backup quarterback Brian Hoyer is also injured, leaving the Patriots turning to third-string rookie Bailey Zappe. Zappe was a formidable collegiate quarterback, but any time you can initiate a rookie quarterback, it’s good news for your defense. Zappe will need time to get used to the speed of the game, and the Lions defense should be ready to capitalize on any rookie mistakes Zappe makes, should he get the start.
Ultimately, the Lions are entering Foxborough with a revamped defensive plan that should buy them some sort of advantage — it simply can’t get worse than last week, can it? They’ll do so against either a quarterback who’s seriously hobbled, or a third-string rookie making his first start. Either way, if the Lions defense can’t capitalize on this, I don’t know what their plan is for the rest of the season. Hopefully we don’t have to answer that question, and Aidan Hutchinson and the rest of the defense can take advantage Sunday for a reassuring rebound.