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Lions Win Another Reminder That Patriots Certainly Have a Shot Against Eagles Sunday

Ian Logue
Ian Logue on Twitter
3 weeks ago at 1:05 pm ET
Posted Under: Patriots News

Lions Win Another Reminder That Patriots Certainly Have a Shot Against Eagles SundayBrian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

Thursday night’s stunning finish out in Kansas City should reshape the thinking of fans in New England who have any doubt about Sunday’s home opener against the Eagles this weekend.

If the Lions can knock off Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs, the Patriots should certainly be able to do the same with Philadelphia.

Detroit surprised everyone with a 21-20 win out in Kansas City Thursday night, with the Lions certainly not overpowering the defending Super Bowl champs.  The Lions pulled off the win not with big plays or an overpowering offense, but largely because Jared Goff made some smart decisions and avoided any turnovers, while the Lions’ defense kept Patrick Mahomes off-balance.

That’s the formula that Mac Jones and the Patriots will likely need this weekend against Jalen Hurts and the Eagles, with Goff avoiding any turnovers against the Chiefs while also mixing in a few moments that kept the chains moving.

The Lions also played well on defense, with their biggest play of the night coming in the third quarter when Mahomes tried to hit Kadarius Toney on a short throw to his right that went off Toney’s hands and into the arms of defensive back Brian Branch, who took it back 50-yards the other way for the touchdown.

That knotted the score at 14-14 and seemingly gave the Lions the confidence they needed to eventually finish things off.  They also held Patrick Mahomes to 2-of-7 throwing the football in the fourth quarter, with the Lions making life difficult on him in the second half.

“I have trust in [Toney],” Mahomes said via ESPN of the play after the game. “He missed a lot of training camp, and obviously he wanted to play and fought [during] rehab hard so he could play and stuff’s not always going to go your way.”

“Obviously he would’ve wanted to catch a few of those in the game, but I’ve trusted he’s going to be that guy that I go to in those crucial moments, and he’s going to make the catch and win us some games like he did last year. So we’re going to continue to work him in, get him more and more reps, and I’m sure that those drops will kind of disappear.”

Detroit did a great job continuing to bring pressure up the middle while preventing him from getting outside, which was something Mahomes was able to have success with during the early part of the game.

They also settled down late in the contest and got back to their running game, with David Montgomery picking up 41 of his 74 yards rushing over the final quarter of play, including converting a key 3rd-and-2 in the waning minutes that allowed Goff to finish things off with three kneel-downs.

The Patriots have the personnel to get after the quarterback this weekend. (PHOTO: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports)

Overall, the Lions were physical and relentless.  Despite several setbacks Thursday night, Detroit never got conservative on the defensive side of the football and Goff made some solid throws of his own, with the former Rams quarterback finishing 22-of-35 for 253-yards along with a touchdown.

It was a perfect recipe for a big win, with nothing flashy needed to get it done.

The Patriots possess all the same tools to do the same against Philadelphia.

They have just as talented of a defense as Detroit, and you could certainly make the argument that they’re better than the Lions from that standpoint.  This is a team that has done well on their own getting after the quarterback, with the Patriots finishing off 2022 tied for 3rd in the NFL with the Cowboys with 54 sacks.  They’re also much more athletic in the middle part of their defense, with enough speed to handle Hurts in the same way the Lions were eventually able to do with Mahomes.

While Philadelphia has a better receiving corps than the Chiefs, who were without Travis Kelce Thursday night, the biggest takeaway from last night was the fact that pressure clearly changes everything.  Mahomes had several throws that fell short primarily because he had a defender who got hands on him, and that was all it took to get him off the field on several possessions.  The Patriots definitely have the personnel to do the same with Hurts.

On the other side, the Lions ultimately remained calm and stuck with their ground game, which helped them eventually win the time of possession battle and allowed them to end up on top by the time this one came to an end.

Goff wasn’t Josh Allen or Aaron Rodgers, but he made the throws he needed to and kept things moving.

That’s essentially what Mac Jones will need to do this weekend.

With DeVante Parker’s status still in question, it’s possible that it may be up to Kendrick Bourne and JuJu Smith-Schuster to carry the load, with rookies Kayshon Boutte and Demario Douglas also needing to step up.  But with Rhamondre Stevenson and Ezekiel Elliott, they have enough to get it done on the ground and certainly enough talent receiver-wise to do what the Lions did.  They just need to be smart with the football while letting their defense hopefully make a key turnover at some point, which is something we’ve absolutely seen them do previously.

There’s no question that Sunday’s game against the Eagles is daunting, to say the least.  But impossible?  Not even close.

Thursday night was a reminder that anything can happen, even though people will argue that Kelce’s absence likely played a part in that.  But after what we watched, Belichick’s group is at least as talented as Dan Campbell’s bunch, and if Jones and the offense can hold up its end of the deal and New England’s defense can pick up where it left off last season, fans should definitely like their chances.

For now, the Lions became the first team to knock off the defending Super Bowl and AFC Champions.  Now it’s up to Belichick’s club to do the same to the NFC Champs as he tries to get his team to kick off 2023 on a high note.

Posted Under: Patriots News
Tags: Jalen Hurts Mac Jones New England Patriots Philadelphia Eagles

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