By: Russ Goldman
Saturday night, the New England Patriots are on the road to face the Detroit Lions at Ford Field at 8:00 PM EST, in their third pre-season game of the season.
More starters on both sides of the ball did play in last week’s exhibition game against Tampa Bay, and I have a feeling you will see even more potential starters against Detroit as the third pre-season contest is generally looked at as a ‘dress rehearsal’ for the opening game. As always, there are plenty of reasons to watch.
In last week’s game against the Buccaneers, the Patriots put on a dominant performance against their opponent on the road. The Patriots dismantled the Bucs 31-14 at Raymond James Stadium, and will be trying to build on that showing out in Motown against Matthew Strafford and the Lions.
As we head into tonight’s game, it should be interesting to see if the Patriots can continue to improve on offense and defense. Will this game be a strong indication that the Patriots are ready to start the season?
Once again, there should be plenty of reasons to tune in. On offense, will the wide receivers be on the same page with Tom Brady? On defense, will this unit once again be able to put pressure on the quarterback? With all that said, Here are my “Five Reasons To Watch The Patriots Pre-Season Game Against The Lions.”
Tonight’s game is considered to be the ‘dress rehearsal’ for Tom Brady and the Patriots. (FILE:Icon/SMI)
1. Will we continue to see an attacking style of defense? Whether it is 4-3 or 3-4, I will be looking to see if this unit is still shooting the gaps, and just going after the quarterback. After so many years of watching the read and react defense of the Patriots, I want to continue to see the aggressive style they have showed in camp, and in the previous pre-season games.
The two things that have excited me about the potential of this unit has to be the pressure on the quarterback, and the negative plays they are forcing. I will be watching to see how often the Patriots defense is in the Lions backfield.
2. What can Albert Haynesworth and Shaun Ellis add to the Patriots defense. I expect both players to be in action against the Lions. The defense looked great last week. However, you have two impact players that you could be adding to this unit.
I want to see if Haynesworth and Ellis can push the pocket back in both running and passing downs. Could the defense be even better with these players? We might finally get an indication tonight against the Lions.
3. How will the offensive line handle the defensive line of the Lions? Ndamukong Suh is an intimidating lineman that can put pressure on the quarterback. Suh had 10 sacks last season, and is a game changer.
I want to see how the line will hold up against this quality pass rusher, and his teammates. Dan Koppen could have his hands full with Suh, and you could see rookie Nate Solder tested as well. I think we will get a strong indication if the line is ready for the opening game after playing the Lions.
4. Will we see progress between Tom Brady and Chad Ochocinco? There is no question that this relationship is a work in progress. Last game, Ochocinco had 2 receptions against the Bucs, although he did have a touchdown grab. I am hoping we see these two players more on the same page against the Lions.
Ochocinco did not look natural running his routes in the last game. It is going to take time, but I am hoping we see improvement.
5. Can Taylor Price continue to show promise in his play? Price looked great in the first pre-season game with 5 receptions for 105 yards, and 1 touchdown. However, he was out of action in the second game after taking a tough helmet-to-helmet shot. I will be be curious to see if he will get a chance to play with Brady.
He has an opportunity to really take that 4th wide receiver position. He will certainly be a huge focus of mine against the Lions.
As always there are going to be other reasons to check out this game. You could certainly focus on Jame Sanders as he could get his first action this season at safety against the Lions. You could also watch rookie Shane Vereen as he could be playing for the first time in a game at running back.
I don’t think fans are going to have a shortage of reasons to watch the Patriots in pre-season this year. Getting ready for the new season continues this Saturday night against the Lions.