After Seahawks lit up scoreboard in last two meetings, Lions expect to get Seattle’s best

Detroit News

Allen Park — For whatever hand-wringing that might have existed about the Detroit Lions’ defense’s ability to slow down the Kansas City Chiefs, those concerns were hypothetical. Sure, there were troubling data points to reference, namely the Lions finishing last in total defense the previous season and the Chiefs consistently ranking among the top five in scoring under head coach Andy Reid, but no one really knew how the two sides would match up, particularly given Detroit’s improved personnel.

As it turned out, the defense answered the bell against the Chiefs, holding the defending champions to 20 points. The effort was buoyed by an impressive second half, where the unit didn’t allow a third-down conversion on seven tries.

Up next is something less of a hypothetical concern and more of a ghost the Lions seek to exorcise on their path to relevancy. The team has played the Seattle Seahawks each of the past two seasons and they put the hammer to the Lions, scoring a combined 99 points in those contests. Those games were Detroit’s worst defensive performance in each season under coach Dan Campbell and defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn.

On paper, the Seahawks have better personnel than they did last season. They return quarterback Geno Smith and leading rusher Kenneth Walker III, as well as the dynamic receiving tandem of DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, who have both been selected to a Pro Bowl in their careers. To that mix, they added slot receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba in the first round of the draft, and swapped out the oft-injured Rashaad Penny for rookie Zach Charbonnet to solidify the backfield behind Walker.

But, if you needed further proof football isn’t played on paper, the Seahawks struggled mightily in their season opener, mustering just 180 yards and 13 points in a blowout loss to the Los Angeles Rams.

Regardless, the Lions will be preparing for a team that fell just short of hanging 50 on them in back-to-back years, as opposed to the one that stumbled out the gate to the 2023 season.

“This team always presents problems,” Lions coach Dan Campbell said. “It’s been a thorn in our side for two years. We know what’s going to be coming in here. We’re going to assume the best out of them. They got after us pretty good last year, real good, and that’s something we won’t forget.”

To be fair, the Lions have every reason to be more confident coming into this matchup. Not only did they stymie the Chiefs, but did so with a number of obvious communication issues in their secondary, which showed up on both of Kansas City’s touchdowns.

Those snafus were the result of the incorporation of new pieces, playing together for the first time, and Campbell expressed a high degree of confidence they’ll get sorted out quickly.

“It’s all correctable,” Campbell said. “This is just a matter of those guys playing together. We had a couple of things at the safety position, nickel. (Rookie Brian) Branch is new to the party, C.J. (Gardner-Johnson) working (for the first time) back there with Kerby (Joseph), but man, all correctable. Honestly, I’m not even sweating it. I know we’ll be just fine, we’ll be great, and we’ll be better this week, which is encouraging.”

On top of those improvements, the Lions stand to benefit from some injury issues for the Seahawks. The team had both starting offensive tackles exit the opener against the Rams. Left tackle Charles Cross has a sprained big toe, also known as turf toe, while right tackle Abraham Lucas reaggravated a knee issue that sidelined him much of training camp.

But the secret ingredient to the matchup could be the Ford Field crowd. The hype surrounding the Lions was already a runaway train entering the season and it has only swelled with last week’s victory over the Chiefs. With season tickets selling out months ago, and secondary-market prices hitting record levels, it figures to be one of the largest and loudest crowds in the stadium’s history.

“My first game ever here as a player, 2006, it was actually Seattle, and I just remember I was not expecting that (crowd),” Campbell said. “It was loud. I had been to some loud places and been around and I was not expecting it. That was my first eye-opener to, wow, if we get some wins here, this place will really be on fire.

“So yeah, I’m expecting it to be loud,” Campbell said. “I know what (Chiefs home stadium) Arrowhead is and it was loud, but I’m expecting it to be louder than that. I just know our fans. It’s going to be to the point where you can’t hear yourself think — for (the Seahawks), anyway.”

Twitter/X: @Justin_Rogers

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