Most of the narratives surrounding Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Rams has centered around slowing down Matthew Stafford, and rightfully so. Stafford has been back to his usual gunslinging self this year, and will likely carve up the Detroit Lions secondary on Sunday.
However, the Lions have found success in their pass defense in recent weeks by upping the pressure on other quarterbacks, specifically from the secondary. In order for the Lions to be able to do that against the Rams, they’ll need to first slow down their run game, which won’t be an easy feat.
Bold prediction of the week: Lions hold Kyren Williams to <85 rushing yards
Williams has burst onto the scene for the Rams this season and quickly made a name for himself as one of the league’s best backs. He’s arguably as hot right now as he has been at any point in the season, posting 100+ rushing yards in five of his last seven games. He’s not just getting volume, either. The last time Williams had a game in which he averaged below 4.0 yards per carry was in September, which was also the last time Williams rushed for fewer than 85 yards in a game.
On Sunday night, we’ll find out what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object. The Lions are one of the best rushing defenses in the league and have managed to keep opposing RB1s on a leash all season.
The Lions defense has allowed just 1,509 rushing yards allowed on the year, second only to the San Francisco 49ers, who have given up more yards per carry. In the latter, the Lions rank third in the league at 3.7 yards per carry allowed.
On Sunday, the key for the Lions defense is to take away the run game from the Rams early and often. If they can force Matthew Stafford and Sean McVay into obvious passing situations on second and third down, it’ll allow them to deploy the right personnel for more blitzes from the second and third levels of the defense, and potentially disrupt the passing game.
Of course, Matthew Stafford is no Nick Mullens, who has been the biggest victim (twice) of the Lions’ revamped defensive strategy. However, the Lions have also managed to slow down Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys offense in Week 17, which was no easy feat, especially with the offensive weaponry and offensive line Dallas boasts. That bodes well for Sunday.
If the Lions play their cards right and force force Stafford into making a few mistakes, the tide will turn strongly in their favor. That starts, however, with keeping Kyren Williams and the Rams’ rushing offense contained.