Five things to watch: Lions vs. Seahawks

Detroit News

The Detroit Lions are coming off a game in which they were the better team and still found a way to lose. Back at home against a Seahawks team that is not what it used to be, they are the better team once again, at least on paper.

The Legion of Boom is no more. Seattle is starting Geno Smith at quarterback. There’s a reason the Lions are favored for the second time this season.

With that being said, here are five things to watch in Sunday’s Lions-Seahawks game at Ford Field.

Okudah Matata

Cornerback Jeff Okudah is finally living up to his draft status. The former No. 3 overall pick is off to a hot start this season, holding some of the best wideouts in the game in check. The combined stat line for DeVonta Smith, Terry McLaurin, and Justin Jefferson is seven receptions for 89 yards and no touchdowns.

This week, it sounds like he’ll be lined up against DK Metcalf, who tried to shrug off Okudah’s stellar start by saying he has safety help over the top. However, it’s common for most teams in the NFL to play with either a single-high or two-high safety look these days. Nevertheless, that should be a fun matchup.

More: Predictions: Detroit Lions vs. Seattle Seahawks

Can Oruwariye bounce back?

Okudah’s counterpart, Amani Oruwariye, is coming off arguably the worst game of his career in which he was flagged six times, mostly for either holding or illegal contact. Adam Thielen gave him all kinds of problems last week, and it won’t get any any easier this week against Tyler Lockett.

With Jerry Jacobs recently cleared to return to practice next week, he may be playing for his starting job this weekend, which is disappointing considering how well he played last year. He had a career-high six interceptions and played decently in coverage. This is a crucial week for him as he looks to prove that last year wasn’t a fluke.

More: Aaron Glenn ‘not concerned at all’ about Amani Oruwariye’s struggles

Who will step up in Walker’s absence?

Safety Tracy Walker tore his Achilles on a non-contact play last week in Minnesota, ending his season and dealing a huge blow to the Lions’ defense. Now, it’s a next-man-up mentality. Who will fill the void in Walker’s absence? The leader in the clubhouse right now is JuJu Hughes, who got burned for the winning touchdown last week. That doesn’t exactly inspire confidence.

Last year’s third-round pick Ifeatu Melifonwu could play as well, but not only is he coming off an injury of his own, he just made the move to safety from cornerback this offseason. Then you have this year’s third-rounder Kerby Joseph, who, by all accounts, doesn’t sound like is ready for a starting role. Time will tell to see who steps up to replace one of the leaders on defense.

More: Scouting report: Detroit Lions vs. Seattle Seahawks

Injuries already piling up

It’s only Week 4 and the list of injuries for the Lions is already as long as one would expect it to be by Thanksgiving. You can virtually add the entire receiving corps to that list with Amon-Ra St. Brown, DJ Chark, and Josh Reynolds all missing practice this week in some fashion.

The good news is that Chark and possibly Reynolds look like they will play. The bad news is that St. Brown and D’Andre Swift, arguably Detroit’s top two offensive weapons, will miss this week and possibly next week at New England. It also doesn’t sound like left guard Jonah Jackson will be returning to the lineup anytime soon.

Can the offense keep up the pace?

Jared Goff is off to a really good start this year. While he’s only completed 58.9% of his passes, he’s thrown for 748 yards, seven touchdowns and two interceptions for a 92.4 quarterback rating. He will be tested without his top two weapons.

The offense is going up against a Seahawks defense that is tied for 20th in points allowed, 25th in total defense, and tied for 30th in rushing defense, so Ben Johnson may heavily rely on the run game to get the job done, even without Swift. Thankfully, the Lions have pretty good depth at the running back position, with Jamaal Williams, Craig Reynolds, and Justin Jackson.

Matthew Scheidel is a freelance writer.

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