It is the first game of the 2019 NFL season and the first game of the Kliff Kingsbury era. While there are questions abound about the Arizona Cardinals, we have plenty of questions on the Detroit Lions as well.
So, in order to help us out a bit, we reached out to Mike Payton of Pride of Detroit to discuss what is going on in the Motor City.
Let’s check it out.
1. Year two of Matt Patricia, what are the expectations for the team?
Expectations are either unusually high or usually low in Detroit. On one side the belief is that now that Patricia has had a full offseason to get his team together and work his game plan, he should have much more success. It’s easy to see why that might happen. The team has shifted quite well to fit his focus and the players have bought in.
On the other hand people expect him to fall on his face and there’s a pretty good possibility that happens too.
2. What will the Lions look to do offensively this year?
There’s widely held belief that the Lions are going to be strictly a run first team after hiring Darell Bevell to take over the offensive coordinator job. But nothing we saw in camp really justifies that belief. The Lions focus is going to be more on balancing the offense. There will be more of a focus on running than we’re used to seeing, but this team will still rely on the arm of Matthew Stafford.
3. Who will be the leader of the defense?
This team is going to be all about this defensive line. The Lions have spent a ton of money and draft picks on putting together this group and it looks like it might pay off with one of the best lines in the NFL in 2019. At the helm is defensive tackle Damon Harrison. PFF graded Harrison out as the best interior defensive linemen in the NFL and with a new extension, he should continue to play at that level in 2019. Maybe even making his first Pro Bowl this season. Aside from him is All-Pro Darius Slay who will look to continue to be one of the most elite corners in the league.
4. Potential breakout player?
It has to be rookie TJ Hockenson. The belief early was that Hockenson was going to struggle like most rookie tight ends do. But he has taken to the pro game lie a fish takes to water. At least that’s the way it appeared in camp and preseason Look for Stafford to Hockenson to be the new thing in Detroit. While he’s not slated to start against the Cardinals, he should definitely see his fair share of playing time there.
5. Are the Lions winning on the road to start the 2019 season?
I’d have to say the Lions should win this game. With a rookie quarterback going up against a pretty good defense and Matthew Stafford and company taking on a secondary that’s missing too many players including Patrick Peterson, the Lions should be able to win and win big theoretically. Of course the Lions have a long history of struggling against rookie quarterbacks. That could easily continue against the Cardinals this Sunday.