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Lions vs. Chargers 4 key stats: Detroit’s elite offensive talent hits its stride

A look at four advanced statistics from the Detroit Lions’ last-second victory over the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 10.

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Detroit Lions v Los Angeles Chargers Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Coming out of the bye week with a test on the road—against one of the top quarterbacks in the league, no less—proved to be the challenge it appeared to be at face value. The Detroit Lions would end up knocking off the Los Angeles Chargers courtesy of a last-second field goal by Riley Patterson, but not before the two offenses provided a fireworks display for four quarters.

As we’ll do every week throughout the season for this Lions team, we’ll comb through some of the advanced data courtesy of PFF that can help us better understand the football the Lions have played thus far—and what to look forward to in the coming weeks. Let’s take a closer look at the Lions by the numbers after their win over the Chargers in Week 10.

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5.03 yards per route run

On the latest episode of the Pride of Detroit PODcast, I went ahead and anointed Amon-Ra St. Brown a top-five wide receiver in the NFL. Sure, it might be a little premature, and even if he isn’t quite there just yet, that isn’t due to any shortcomings in his game: there are just a ton of uber-talented wideouts across the league.

But St. Brown needs to be celebrated and heralded accordingly for his efficiency in this offense. His ability to rack up yards after the catch—his 70 YAC in Week 10 was second in the league among all wide receivers with at least five targets—makes him a dangerous player the defense must account for before every snap. Against the Chargers, St. Brown was his typical efficient self, posting an impressive 5.03 yards per route run (Y/RR) which ranked him third among wide receivers with at least three targets in Week 10.

83.1 PFF offense grade

This isn’t so much an “advanced statistic” as it is a measure of just how effective PFF deemed Penei Sewell against Los Angeles. Sure, I could’ve highlighted his 100.0 pass blocking efficiency where he allowed zero pressures against the likes of Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack. Could’ve highlighted his pass-blocking grade (81.6) which was the second-highest grade among tackles in Week 10.

But Sewell is the very definition of an elite offensive tackle because of his ability to do it all. His 83.1 PFF offense grade was the top mark for all offensive tackles in Week 10, and his 84.8 PFF offense grade through nine games has him ranked second among offensive tackles in the NFL. He’s on track for an All-Pro selection this season, and yeah, the quarterback touches the ball the most and that leads to that position getting the most attention for MVP awards, but, you’d be hard-pressed to find a football player more important to their football team than Sewell.

64.7% and 45.5% breakaway

When the Lions moved on from D’Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams this past offseason, there were questions about how much of an upgrade Detroit made by replacing them with David Montgomery and Jahmyr Gibbs. Week 10’s game against the Chargers was the first example of just how dangerous and unpredictable this offense can be with both of those guys in the lineup—especially in regards to big plays.

Among all running backs in Week 10, Montgomery (64.7% breakaway) and Gibbs (45.5% breakaway) finished first and third respectively in “breakaway percentage.” This PFF advanced metric “tries to measure how much a defense needs to worry about the running back because of his ability to break a big play, and is calculated by taking the yards gained on runs over 15 yards and dividing it by the player’s total rushing yards.”

Even though the Lions have assembled one hell of an offensive line, capable of moving defenders off their spots and creating run lanes, both Montgomery and Gibbs have shown a real ability to break big plays on more than a few occasions; it just so happened both of these guys put it on display during their share of carries in Week 10.

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