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Jets vs Lions: 5 Questions with Pride of Detroit

SB Nation’s Lions expert Mike Payton answers our questions on the Detroit Lions

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions David Reginek-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Jets try to rebound from a tough loss to the Bufalo Bills last week when they take on the Detroit Lions at home in MetLife Stadium this week. Previewing this matchup, Mike Payton of Pride of Detroit was kind enough to answer a few questions regarding the 2022 Bills.

Check out the Q&A below, and be sure to check out DraftKings Sportsbook for all your betting needs this season.

1. The Lions started the season going 1-6 in their first 7 games. They have gone 5-1 in their last 6. What are the primary reasons for the big turnaround? Part of this is probably the brutal schedule the Lions faced early on, but what are the reasons beyond the schedule?

The brutal schedule is definitely part of it for sure. One of the big reasons for the turnaround is that the Lions started really performing on defense. They went from the dead last team in the league to a team that’s eight in defensive DVOA over this stretch. It’s truly been a sight to see. The other reason is that this team finally got healthy. This might be the healthiest this team has been in the last two years. Most of that healing happened on the offensive side of the ball. The Lions are now back to full strength on offense and Jared Goff is playing the best ball of his career because of it.

2. In their first 6 games of the year the Lions turned the ball over on offense 11 times, while generating just 5 turnovers on defense. Unsurprisingly the Lions lost a lot of games early. In the last 7 games the Lions turned the ball over just 3 times on offense while generating 12 turnovers on defense. Unsurprisingly the Lions have won a lot of games of late. No team has ever sustained anything close to a 4 to 1 turnover ratio over an entire season, so it would seem likely we will see some regression to the mean going forward. My question: suppose the Lions have neither a lopsided positive nor negative turnover ratio going forward, but come out somewhat close to neutral. What kind of team are the Lions if that happens? A top team? A playoff contender? A .500 ish team? A losing team? What do you think?

I think the Lions are still a playoff caliber team. They’ve shown all season that they can offensively hang with just about every team in the NFL except the Patriots for some reason. The Lions defense just needs to get some stops. They’ve managed to win games without forcing turnovers. You could make a good argument that they still beat the Vikings this past Sunday without forcing a Dalvin Cook fumble because they nearly beat the Vikings once before. without it. As long as the Lions can keep this offensive fire power going, it can help hide their deficiencies.

3. The quarterback is of course the most important player on a football team, and, with the possible exception of a hockey goalie, the most important single player in all major team sports. Finding a long term answer at the position is crucial to sustained success. What do Lions fans think about Jared Goff, who has trended upwards recently after a decent but far from great early career? Is Goff the long term answer at quarterback for the Lions?

Right now this is all up in the air. The Lions reportedly do not see Goff as a bridge quarterback and his play this season is not the kind of play you’d expect to see from one either. Goff is having a really good season and is currently top 10 in all the statistical categories you’d want your quarterback to be top 10 in.

With that said, we don’t know the answer to whether or not Goff can play like this long term or if it’s just a flash in the pan. The Lions will more than likely have a top five pick in this year’s draft. If they find a QB they’re in love with, there’s no shame in stashing that guy for a while. In my opinion, the Lions should stay put with Goff and continue to use their assets to keep building this team up. There may not be a wrong answer there though.

4. What is the best way to successfully attack the Lions on offense and on defense?

On defense, the Jets are going to have to make this team revive their solid run game from earlier in the season. It’s struggled lately and the Lions have relied on their pass catchers to get things done. If the Jets defense can take away the pass game, the Lions offense has to get right in the run game or die.

On offense, if Mike White has any mobility outside of the pocket, this would be a good game to use it. The Lions defense struggles against a quarterback that’s good on his feet. otherwise, I would attack the Lions young secondary. Anyone outside of Jeff Okudah is a target. Look what Justin Jefferson did last week when Okudah was on the bench with an illness.

5. According to DraftKings Sportsbook this game is pretty close to a tossup. These two teams have similar long term records of misery, and are experiencing similar current seasons of hope. The winner of this game will enhance their playoff chances, while the loser will be in a very precarious position regarding this years’ playoffs. Which team would you bet on to emerge with a victory on Sunday and why?

I know it sounds like a homer pick, but I’m going with the team that’s on the hot streak. I think both the Jets and the Lions are the future of the NFL. Wow! I can’t believe I typed that and actually felt good about it, but it’s true. As for now, I have a hard time betting against this Lions team that is crazy hungry and feeling the moment. It’s going to be a close game though for sure.