Scouting report: Detroit Lions vs. Seattle Seahawks

Detroit News

Lions vs. Seahawks

Kickoff: 1 p.m. Sunday, Ford Field, Detroit

TV/radio: Fox/97.1

Records: Lions 1-2, Seahawks 1-2

Line: Lions by 4

Nolan Bianchi of The Detroit News breaks down the Lions’ Week 4 matchup against the Seattle Seahawks.

Key matchup

LIONS’ PASS RUSH VS. SEATTLE OFFENSIVE LINE

It’s put-up-or-shut-up time for a Lions defense that’s battling injuries and struggling to find a groove through the first three weeks of the season, which means that for the second week in a row, Detroit’s key matchup involves its defensive front.

Provided that Detroit gets at least half of its injured starters out of the MASH unit, the Lions’ offense should, in theory, have enough firepower to cruise at home against a lesser Seattle team — as long as the defense doesn’t put the team in too big of a hole.

The Lions’ defense has started strong in two straight weeks, but has yet to keep the floodgates closed for a full 60 minutes and is giving up more points than any team in the NFL. Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith is Pro Football Focus’ eighth-ranked quarterback this season and has the weapons to make defenses pay, meaning the Lions can’t afford to underestimate the passing game.

While Smith has been very effective so far, he’s had similar stretches in his career and later has come crashing back down to earth. The Lions can start that process this weekend by winning in the trenches and getting Smith off his game with pressure, similar to the way they did early against Commanders quarterback Carson Wentz in Week 2. Across the board, the Seahawks’ offensive line has been below average, and the Lions need to take advantage of that if they want to put together a full defensive performance.

Seahawks to watch

Jordyn Brooks, LB: Brooks ranks fourth in the NFL in tackles (34) and will likely be a big factor in deciding how successful Detroit is in running the ball, especially without D’Andre Swift. Whether it be the Lions’ wide receivers and tight ends, or offensive linemen quickly getting to the second level, he’ll be a guy to watch in the run game this weekend.

Uchenna Nwosu, EDGE: Fortunately for the Lions, Seattle’s best pass rushers will be coming from areas of the field where Detroit will actually have healthy starters to block them. Nwosu has proved to be Seattle’s pass rusher thus far, entering the fourth week of the season tied for sixth in quarterback hits (six) with 13 tackles, a sack, two pass deflections, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. He’s also done pretty well in run defense, grading out as Seattle’s third-best run defender. If Detroit’s offense hits any snags this week, it’ll likely have something to do with Nwosu.

Tyler Lockett, WR: Jeff Okudah did a masterful job of slowing down Justin Jefferson a week ago, and while Dan Campbell wouldn’t divulge his defensive assignment for this week, it can be reasonably expected that he’ll face Seattle’s No. 1, DK Metcalf, for a majority of the game. That forces us to turn our attention to Lockett, whose career arc and role in Seattle’s offense somewhat meshes with that of Vikings receiver Adam Thielen. Thielen made a big catch every time the Vikings needed it a week ago, and if Okudah is able to stick with Metcalf for most of the game, that means they’ll likely be looking his way on crucial third downs and game-defining plays.

Facts and figures

▶ D’Andre Swift can’t go for the Lions this weekend and they’ll need to get contributions from their rushing game to keep this offensive machine rolling. Fortunately for Detroit, it seems like Swift’s injury has come at a good time (if there is such a thing). Jamaal Williams has rushed for 4.4 yards per carry in each of his last two contests, rushing for 87 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries last week as the primary ballcarrier.

▶ The Seahawks and Lions have played each other eight times since the turn of the century, and Seattle has won all of those games except one. One of those games was a 26-6 Seahawks win on wild-card weekend in 2017 and the other came two years prior on the Calvin Johnson goal-line fumble that K.J. Wright bopped out of the end zone on Monday Night Football. The Lions’ last win against the Seahawks — and only win over Seattle since 1999 — was a 28-24 victory at Ford Field in 2012 that came on a last-minute touchdown pass to Titus Young. Memories, huh?

▶ The Lions probably could have saved themselves a whole lot of controversy last Sunday by simply converting on third down more often. Detroit was a dismal 3-for-16 against Minnesota, a feat that was overshadowed by Minnesota going 2-for-9 and the Lions remaining in control for most of the game. The Seahawks have the third-best third-down offense in the league, which could be catastrophic for a Lions defense that’s giving up third downs at a 46.3% clip.

nbianchi@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @nolanbianchi

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