#256 Detroit Lionsvs.#255 New England Patriots
Written by Chris Kubala
New England Patriots (0-2 SU, 0-2 ATS, 2-0 O/U) vs. Detroit Lions (2-0 SU, 2-0 ATS, 0-2 O/U)
NFL: Friday, August 25, 2017, Ford Field, Detroit, Michigan, 7 pm ET
Spread: New England -1, Over/Under: 44
It’s a Week 3 inter-conference matchup in preseason action of the NFL slate in the Motor City. The New England Patriots are on the road as they battle the Detroit Lions Friday night. New England remained winless in the preseason as they fell 27-23 on the road to Houston Saturday night. Detroit knocked off the Jets 16-6 at home Saturday night to remain unbeaten. The Patriots hold a 7-4 advantage in the all-time regular season series, including four straight wins. That includes a 34-9 home win in the most recent matchup on November 23, 2014.
New England has struggled so far in the preseason defensively as they’ve allowed 58 points in their first two games. The Patriots led 16-10 late in the third quarter and 23-20 in the fourth before giving up the eventual winning score. New England outgained Houston 339-281 in the game but was burned by three turnovers, which led to 10 points. The Patriots’ final turnover came in the red zone in the dying seconds, which negated their chance to pull out a win. It was also announced that New England’s first pick in the draft, defensive end Derek Rivers, may be lost for the season with a torn ACL.
Tom Brady was sharp in his preseason debut, hitting 6 of 9 passes for 67 yards and a score before taking a seat on the bench. Jimmy Garoppolo was 15 of 23 for 145 yards with a touchdown and an interception while Jacoby Brissett hit 5 of 10 for 36 yards. Dion Lewis was the leading ground gainer with seven carries for 34 yards while Brandon Bolden chipped in eight carries for 33 yards in the loss. James O’Shaughnessy led the team with five receptions for 41 yards in the loss. Running backs D.J. Foster (four catches, 52 yards) and Rex Burkhead (three catches, 50 yards) each caught a touchdown pass in the game. Stephen Gostkowski didn’t miss a beat as he drilled field goals from 38, 51 and 42 yards in the contest.
Detroit has struggled a bit offensively in the preseason but their defense has stepped up impressively in the first two games. The Lions took advantage of a dismal Jets team to pick up the win in Saturday’s game despite a mediocre showing on offense. Detroit kept the Jets out of the end zone in the game and off the scoreboard until the fourth quarter to get the win. The Lions held a narrow 262-241 advantage in total yards, won the first down battle 17-14 and forced two turnovers while committing only one. The fact remains that Jim Caldwell and Jim Bob Cooter have to get the offense going if they hope to make the postseason this year.
Matthew Stafford was sharp as he hit 8 of 10 throws for 84 yards and a touchdown in the game. The battle for the backup QB spot didn’t really develop much separation as Jake Rudock (8 of 13, 84 yards, INT) and Brad Kaaya (4 of 7, 38 yards) didn’t do anything overwhelming. The run game averaged only 2.6 yards per carry on 31 rushing attempts: Dwayne Washington led the team with eight carries for 24 yards. Twelve different players caught at least one pass for the Lions with Marvin Jones Jr. (four receptions, 34 yards, TD) scoring the game’s only touchdown for either side. T.J. Jones was injured in the first half and there has not been an update to his status yet. That could make rookie Kenny Golladay’s chances to crack the starting lineup much better. Matt Prater drilled all three of his field goal attempts, hitting from 37, 25 and 50 yards in the contest.
New England hasn’t been good defensively but this is the preseason game where a team gives their starters the most action. While Brady likely won’t see that much time in order to avoid injury, the Patriots still have plenty of weapons to work with on that side of the ball. Detroit has had good success defensively but they have issues on the offensive side of the ball. The Lions will battle but until they can prove themselves offensively, look for this one to swing New England’s way as they pick up their first win of the preseason.
New England’s defense hasn’t been overwhelming, though three turnovers against the Texans helped turn the tide in the game. Detroit has their own issues but it seems to be more offensively oriented. Granted, some of that can be chalked up to limited time from their starters but the fact remains they need to put together offensive numbers. Shutting down the Colts and Jets is one thing but the Lions will be tested defensively by the Patriots and their myriad of weapons on the offensive side of the ball.
The under is 8-3 in the Patriots last 11 road games. Detroit has seen the under go 9-2 in their last 11 games overall, 9-2 in their last 11 games on fieldturf and 4-1 in their last five home games. Given the fact that the Lions are good defensively and mediocre offensively, this one probably falls just short of the projected total.
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Christopher Kubala has been crunching stats and following sports for over 30 years. His in depth analysis and passion for sports have led him to writing books about sports, regularly being featured on sports talk radio and as the go-to person for any obscure trivia. He keeps an eye on transactions and statistics like a hawk, especially when it comes to football, both the NFL and college, the NHL, the NBA and college basketball and MLB.