The Patriots travel to Detroit for the Sunday night game as a heavy favorite. The Patriots are a very public team every week and have a reputation of playing at a high level. This week is no different as the public is heavily on the Patriots coming off a loss last week. The media will always drive the story of how well the Patriots seem to play after a loss and that is another factor to the spread in this game. Lions head coach Matt Patricia was the Patriots defensive coordinator for the past five seasons and had been in the Patriots organization since 2004. Another thing that traditionally happens is the Patriots doing very well against their former coaches evidenced with their week 1 win over Houston and coach Bill O’Brien. The Lions are 0-2 and their blowout loss in week 1 on Monday night is still fresh in everyones mind. Rumors started that the Lions players hated their coach. They lost a close game to the 49ers last week where they were penalized 10 times for 105 yards. The Lions scored two touchdowns late to secure the backdoor cover but were unable to fully complete their comeback attempt. The Lions were without TJ Lang and Ezekiel Ansah who should both be ready to go this week also. I don’t think this game is going to be all Patriots like it is being made out to be. I think this will be much more interesting.
The Lions are coming off two games where they have not looked very good at all. In week one they ran into a Jets team that was extremely well prepared. Since then the Jets have not played as well. Todd Bowles had all off-season to put that game plan into play and it was executed to perfection. In week two they really kept shooting themselves in the foot. They were penalized a lot including on a late interception that would have put them deep in 49ers territory. They also surrendered a 66 yard TD run to cap off a 3 play 97 yard drive. to put them down 17 points. This drive put the 49ers up for good. Although the Lions have not looked convincingly good I think that will change this week. For all intents and purposes this week is their season. If they win here they can have a chance to turn their season around and fight for the NFC North. There is always added motivation playing the Patriots for any team as we saw with Jacksonville last week. The players are also going to want to win this one for their coach Matt Patricia. Although Brady is a much better quarterback, last week against Garoppolo was almost like a warm-up game for the Lions secondary. There was one point in the game where Matt Patricia was coaching his secondary on what appeared to be their man coverage. This will definitely come into play this week as the Patriots offense struggles against man coverage. They traded for Josh Gordon to help their receiving core but I don’t think he will be able to grasp the offense enough to make an impact on the field right away. The Lions will definitely be well prepared for this game and I don’t think it will be very high scoring either.
The Patriots lost convincingly last week. They are a team that traditionally starts slow and plays better as the season goes along. Their defense was terrible last week. They could not stop the run or the pass. Going up against Jacksonville’s stout defense, the Patriots offense did not do to well either. I see the Patriots struggling again this week offensively and defensively. The Lions have not looked spectacular on defense by any means but they have Ezekiel Ansah returning and they match up well against the Patriots. They have a pretty good secondary that can disrupt the timing of the Patriots passing offense. Other than Rob Gronkowski, there aren’t any great weapons on the Patriots offense. Julian Edelman is still suspended for two more games and Josh Gordon won’t be able to make an impact right away. The Patriots defense will be without Patrick Chung and Trey Flowers. This just feels like another early game that the Patriots won’t play their best in.
For me one of the biggest factors in this game is Darius Slay. He did not practice all week because of a concussion except for a limited session on Friday. He is listed as questionable for the game on Sunday. He is one of the best cornerbacks in the league and a huge part of the Lions defense. I believe Matt Patricia will have his defense and secondary coached well regardless, but having Slay on the field makes a huge difference. Some reports are indicating that he will play and some are saying the opposite. I think he will play. I personally feel that doctors in the NFL are shady and he will be cleared to play. This game is so big I don’t think the Lions can afford to not have him out there. I think the Lions cover easily here if not win outright. It is still early in the season and the Patriots will bounce back. Julian Edelman comes back after week 4, and Josh Gordon will become more assimilated in the offense as the season goes by. Their defense seems to always improve as the season goes by and I don’t think this year is any different. The Patriots will probably lose this game and then return home and smoke the Dolphins next week. This is the Lions week though. This is their Super Bowl. Their whole season is on the line and that is why I like them to cover the spread.