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Lions vs. Raiders bold prediction: Lions D corrals Josh Jacobs in primetime

Can the Lions defense rebound as one of the league’s best running backs comes to town?

Detroit Lions v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images

The Detroit Lions defense has been stout against the run all season. They rank second in the league with 76 rush yards allowed per game, even after last week’s disaster in Baltimore. A quick look at their performance against RB1s tells a compelling story:

This was prior to the Lions holding the entire Tampa Bay Buccaneers team to 46 rushing yards just a couple weeks ago. That’s no joke, as the Packers, Falcons, and Seahawks are among the most talented rushing attacks in the league. Josh Jacobs is no different.

Bold prediction of the week: Lions defense holds Josh Jacobs to <50 rushing yards

Jacobs is coming off of a season in which he was voted first-team All-Pro and led the league in both rushing yards and yards from scrimmage. There wasn’t any reason to believe he wouldn’t pick up where he left off, but that has not been the case. The Raiders have struggled as a team this season, and that starts with their rushing attack.

The story with Jacobs is a tale of volume, not efficiency. Week in and week out, he’s struggled to average more than roughly 3.0 yards per carry this season. When he rushes for significant yardage, it’s because of high volume of touches. In the three games where Jacobs failed to hit the 50-yard mark, he averaged 13 carries. In the four games where he has crossed that threshold, he averaged just under 20 carries.

A deeper dive into the games where he was held in check shows a clear trend: playing from behind. The games in which Jacobs touches the ball least are ones where the opponent takes a commanding lead early and Raiders are forced to lean on the passing game to keep up. Just last week in the Raiders’ 30-12 loss to the Bears, Jacobs saw his second-lowest volume of carries all season, with just 11. That’s not a winning strategy for an All-Pro back.

For the Lions, that’s good news. They’re coming fresh off of a loss that exposed their biggest weakness: playing from behind. Ben Johnson will surely have a focus on getting a hot start Monday night and keeping the Raiders in the rearview mirror. If the offense can execute on that vision, then they’re in good position to keep the ball out of the hands of Josh Jacobs for the night.

It won’t be easy, though. The Lions offense is limping into this game. RB David Montgomery and LG Jonah Jackson have already been ruled out. C Frank Ragnow, the true anchor of this offense, is doubtful with a combination of lower leg injuries. G Halapoulivaati Vaitai is questionable, although we’ve seen Graham Glasgow fill in for him admirably. That leaves a big question mark above your entire interior offensive line heading into Monday night. To make matters worse, Amon-Ra St. Brown is now questionable with an illness.

A typical Lions offense would seize this game early and not look back. Monday night though, it’ll take a resilient effort from the team to make that happen. If they can control the ball early and often, it’ll keep Josh Jacobs at bay and set the Lions up for a win. If not, then the All-Pro running back may make the Lions defense more reminiscent of the Ravens game than anything else.

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