Lions vs. Dolphins
▶ Kickoff: 1 p.m., Sunday, Ford Field, Detroit
▶ TV/radio: CBS/97.1
▶ Line: Lions +3.5
▶ Records: Lions 1-5, Dolphins 4-3
Nolan Bianchi of The Detroit News breaks down the Lions’ Week 8 matchup against the Miami Dolphins.
Lions’ secondary vs. Dolphins’ wide receivers
Despite playing with three different quarterbacks this season, Dolphins receivers Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle rank first and fourth, respectively, in receiving yards across the league. That oughta spell trouble for a Lions team that ranks dead-last in total defense and has had injuries across the board in their secondary.
Plus, the healthy players haven’t been great: Pro Football Focus grades Amani Oruwariye as the 182nd-ranked corner in the league (out of 185 eligible players), with Lions cornerback Jerry Jacobs, who made his season debut last week against Dallas, coming right behind him at No. 183.
On the flip side, Detroit cornerback Jeff Okudah is coming off what many believe to be his best game as a Lion, Kerby Joseph has shown some ball-hawking skills that might actually help the Lions counter Miami’s deep passing attack, and Detroit seemed to find a groove in getting to the quarterback against the Cowboys, which will be ever-important again this weekend.
Dolphins to watch
▶ WRs Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle: Bit of redundancy here, but that should make it all the more obvious how badly the Lions need to stop these guys, if they want to have a chance this weekend. In six games this year, Hill has three games with at least 10 receptions and 150 yards, and Waddle is averaging 18.3 yards per reception, good enough for fifth in the NFL. This week, we’ll find out if the new-look Lions defense, which has played well over its last two games, is for real.
▶ S Jevon Holland: Jared Goff’s interception problem turned an ugly corner in Dallas last week, and if seeing him challenge Trevon Diggs with a deep ball gave you nightmares, prepare for that feeling all over again, as he faces a secondary led by the versatile Holland. Holland has two interceptions on the season, but that’s not even where he figures to give Detroit the most concern — he owns the Dolphins’ highest pass rush grade, per PFF, highlighted by a strip-sack of Mac Jones in Week 1.
▶ DT Christian Wilkins: The Lions will likely lean on their run game to get their offense back on track, but against the Dolphins, that might prove to be difficult. Miami’s run defense ranks seventh in the league and the big boy in the middle, the 6-foot-4, 311-pound Wilkins, has more tackles (38) than any other defensive lineman this season, ranks seventh amongst defensive linemen with seven tackles for loss, and in 2021 recorded the most tackles (89) for a defensive lineman since the 2013 season.
Facts and figures
▶ Miami touts a rushing attack led by Raheem Mostert, who, perhaps surprisingly, ranks fourth in NFL history in rushing average (min. 250 carries). His career 5.39 yards per carry trails only Hokie Gajan (5.39), Bo Jackson (5.4), and the guy who ripped the Lions’ hearts out in Week 4, Rashaad Penny (5.6). That sounds like a good omen.
▶ The Lions haven’t lost to the Dolphins at Ford Field since Nov. 2006. That’s a harmless — maybe even a positive — stat, until you remember that it was former Lions quarterback Joey Harrington who did the carving on that Thanksgiving Day; he threw for 213 yards, two touchdowns and his highest rating as a quarterback (107.4) in a Dolphins uniform to spoil Turkey Day with a 27-10 win for the road team. The good news: Whatever happens on Sunday, it can’t be worse than that.
▶ The Lions have gone to play-action at a rate that’s exactly league average (25%) this season, which they might want to reconsider after a pair of desolate offensive performances. In play-action this season, Goff has a 67.3 completion percentage, five touchdowns, two interceptions and a 111.4 rating. Outside of play-action, he’s completing 60.6% of his passes and thrown for six touchdowns, four interceptions and has a rating of 83.8.