The Detroit Lions (6-2) journey to SoFi Stadium for a critical Week 10 matchup with the Los Angeles Chargers (4-4). Detroit’s sole west-coast trip this season follows a much-needed bye week, offering the Lions a chance to get healthy and re-focus for the second half of their year.
ONE: OC Ben Johnson Must Unlock the Armory and Unload Weapons
The Lions have successfully nursed key players back to health, presenting nearly full strength against the unpredictable Chargers. Despite possessing a roster brimming with talent, the Chargers have struggled to find consistent form, making this matchup unpredictable yet pivotal.
To secure a victory, Detroit’s offensive coordinator, Ben Johnson, needs to fully leverage the team’s offensive arsenal. With all key players healthy and active for the first time this season, including second-year WR Jameson Williams and the dynamic RB duo of David Montgomery and Jahmyr Gibbs, Detroit’s offensive strategy should be multifaceted. The team’s identity, their offensive line, welcomes back key starters LG Jonah Jackson and C Frank Ragnow, which is crucial in both protecting the quarterback and establishing a dominant ground game against a Chargers defensive line that has unique talent at both edges.
The Lions are among the NFL’s elite in both passing and rushing, so controlling the time of possession will be vital. Their strategy should focus on balancing between tough inside runs and exploiting the speed of Gibbs, Williams, and Kalif Raymond on the outside. And, of course, Lions QB Jared Goff can continue to rely on WR Amon-Ra St. Brown and TE Sam LaPorta as his security blankets. Maintaining ball control and thus limiting Justin Herbert’s opportunities will be key to Detroit’s game plan.
TWO: Neutralize the Chargers’ Pass Rush
The Chargers’ pass rush, led by Khalil Mack, Joey Bosa, and emerging rookie Tuli Tuipulotu, poses a significant challenge to any team. However, the Lions’ offensive line, particularly RT Penei Sewell and LT Taylor Decker, has demonstrated that they can win one-on-one matchups consistently. While there will certainly be moments where they will require some help from the guards or tight ends, Sewell and Decker are two of the few tackles in this league that could go toe-to-toe with the Chargers rush.
Efficient play on early downs will be crucial to avoid third-down pressure situations where the Chargers excel. The Lions’ offensive line must also establish early dominance in the run game to open up opportunities for Detroit’s speedy playmakers after Jared Goff’s league-leading play-action pass game.
THREE: Special Teams Could be the Difference
Special teams could play a decisive role in this game. Chargers’ WR Derius Davis, a rising special teams star, and Detroit’s All-Pro return specialist Kalif Raymond both have the potential to break a return for a touchdown and significantly impact the game’s dynamics. Containing Davis and maximizing Raymond’s return abilities will be crucial for field position and momentum.
On the flip side, the Detroit Lions can utilize one of the best punters in the NFL, Jack Fox, to aid in the field position matchup. Without a consistent deep threat on the Chargers offense, the Lions will want to force Justin Herbert into the longest field possible and make it difficult to push the ball down the field. They can do this by committing to Jack Fox and flipping the field whenever they have the chance.
While the star power of Justin Herbert, Keenan Allen, and Austin Ekeler on the Chargers’ side is undeniable, Detroit’s path to victory lies in dominating these three key areas. If the Lions can execute effectively on offense, neutralize the Chargers’ pass rush, and outplay them on special teams, they stand a strong chance of leaving SoFi Stadium with a statement win.
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Original Photo Credit: © Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK