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Thursday open thread: Which Lion needs to have a huge game this Sunday?

There is a path to an upset — and the Super Bowl! — for the Lions.

NFC Divisional Playoffs - Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Detroit Lions Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images

Take nothing away from the back-to-back playoff wins for the Detroit Lions; we have all waited a long time for this moment to finally come. However—absolutely to the team’s credit — Detroit was favored against both the Rams and the Buccaneers, and while these wins were far from guaranteed, they actually came with a bit of expectation.

That is anything but the case this weekend against the San Francisco 49ers. Arguably no NFC team has been more consistent in recent seasons, as this will be the Niners’ fourth NFC Championship Game in five seasons. History, Vegas, and the media think San Francisco is heading back to the Super Bowl, but the Lions will have their say.

Today’s Question of the Day is:

Which Lion needs to have a huge game this Sunday?

My answer: Stopping the Niners offense is going to be a big challenge given the number of playmakers available, regardless of Deebo Samuel’s health. While Brock Purdy is not necessarily going to launch the ball downfield, he makes smart, accurate passes that give his weapons a chance to do damage. I think the secondary, and particularly the safeties, have to be locked in every single play.

However, the key to an upset is not just neutralizing the opponent’s strength but leaning into your own. Dan Campbell has built the identity of this team on toughness, and the Lions will win or lose through the offensive line. Teams have had success running against San Francisco, and the line has a chance to control the game. If the running backs get space and Jared Goff has enough time to throw when needed, the Detroit offense can be the one dictating the game.

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After winning their first NFC North title in 30 years, the Lions have unfinished business this offseason. Stay updated with Jeremy Reisman through Pride of Detroit Direct, our newsletter offering up exclusive analysis. Sign up with NFCNORTH30 to get 30% off after your free trial.