Coming off a massive victory over the Vikings, the Detroit Lions will travel to New York to face off against the New York Jets. The Jets have been one of the surprise teams of the season. Coming off a 4-13 season, expectations were low for the Jets. Led by their defense, the Jets are in contention for a playoff berth despite playing in the most challenging division in football. Let's look inside the numbers to see how the Detroit Lions vs. New York Jets match up.
Detroit Lions vs. New York Jets Inside the Numbers
Detroit Lions vs. New York Jets: Pass Offense vs. Pass Defense
This will be an exciting matchup as it pits the strength of both teams. The Lions have relied on their passing game to move the ball, and it has worked great. The Lions have thrown for an impressive 299 yards per game over their last three games which is good for third in the league during that span. Jared Goff has been dealing, using his healthy receiver corps to drive the offense.
However, they haven't faced a challenge like the Jets. The Jets are top four in both yards per game and yards per attempt given up. The key to their success has been the play of their outstanding corners, Sauce Gardner (PFF top-ranked corner) and DJ Reed (21st-ranked corner). Both players are skillful, and Sauce can give any receiver problems. On top of great coverage, the Jets have a great pass rush as well.
Despite one of the lowest blitz rates in the league, the Jets are 5th in sacks per game thanks to superstar tackle Quinnen Williams and strong pass rushers Carl Lawson and John Franklin-Myers. The Jets don't have many holes in their pass defense, but the Lions have a good enough offensive line and enough weapons on the outside to pose problems.
Detroit Lions vs. New York Jets: Rush Offense vs. Rush Defense
While the passing attack has been humming, the rushing attack has been inconsistent after a great start to the year. Despite having the 11th most rushing yards, the Lions have the 7th least yards per carry over the last 3 games. It's surprising as the Lions' have one of the best offensive lines in the league, but both Jamaal Williams and D'Andre Swift have struggled.
On the other hand, the Jets have a strong run defense. Led by Williams and CJ Mosley, their defense is adept at taking away the run. To this point, they only give up 4 yards per carry which is good for fifth in the league. If they do have a weakness, defensive lineman Carl Lawson and Sheldon Rankins are much better rushing the passer than holding up against the run. The Lions should look to attack them in the run game. Facing such a good defense, the Lions will need to step up to generate offense.
Detroit Lions vs. New York Jets: Pass Defense vs. Pass Offense
The Jets made a bold in-season move switching from former 2nd overall pick Zach Wilson to backup Mike White. So far, the move has been a success. Over the last three games, they rank ahead of the Lions with 302 yards a game. Some of that is volume inflated as the Jets have thrown the ball 45 times a game over that span almost five attempts more than the Lions. White is able to put up those numbers thanks to a good receiving corps. Rookie Garrett Wilson is playing well with White and Corey Davis and Elijah Moore have looked better as of late.
The Lions' pass defense struggled last week giving up 425 pass yards to Kirk Cousins. They have struggled overall on the season ranking in the bottom five in both pass yards and yards per attempt in the league. However, their defense is not as bleak as the raw numbers suggest. Per DVOA, their pass defense ranks 10th in the league since Week 10 and 21st on the year. One catalyst of the improvement has been the improved pass rush led by Aidan Hutchinson. He should have a chance to shine as the Jets give up 2.4 sacks a game behind an average offensive line. With a healthier secondary, the Lions should put up a much better performance against the Jets.
Detroit Lions vs. New York Jets: Rushing Defense vs. Rushing Offense
The Jets have had an average rushing attack this year. They started off running the ball extremely well, but a season-ending injury to Breece Hall threw a wrench in their plans. Michael Carter is a capable back, but he doesn't have Hall's ability to overcome the weaker offensive line. Since then, they have not been bad, but on the season, they are 20th in yards per game and 15th in yards per carry.
The Lions' rush defense has looked incredibly strong over the back half of the season. Last week was the highlight as they limited Dalvin Cook to only 23 yards. Despite their improvement, they were so bad at the start of the year that they rank 30th in yards per attempt and 26th in yards per game. Those numbers can be disregarded. The Lions have shown the ability to shut down elite runners like Cook and Saquon Barkley. The Lions should focus on stopping the run and force Zach Wilson to beat them.