Predicting the Detroit Lions starting defense for Divisional Round Playoff matchup vs. Buccaneers
On Sunday afternoon, the Detroit Lions‘ defense will be called up once again when the Lions host Baker Mayfield, Mike Evans, and the rest of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Ford Field. Though the Lions' run defense has been elite this season, the pass defense has left much to be desired. Let's hope that Aidan Hutchinson wreaks havoc in the Buccaneers backfield just like he did last week against the Rams and that the secondary rises to the occasion for what will be the biggest Lions game ever to be played at Ford Field. That said, let's take a look at what I believe the starting defense will look like against the Buccaneers.
Who will be on the Detroit Lions Starting Defense?
- EDGE: Aidan Hutchinson
- EDGE: Josh Paschal
- DT: Alim McNeill
- DT: Benito Jones
- LB: Alex Anzalone
- LB: Derrick Barnes
- CB: Cam Sutton
- CB: Kindle Vildor
- NB: Brian Branch
- S: Ifeatu Melifonwu
- S: Kerby Joseph
Last week, I had rookie Jack Campbell slotted in as a starting linebacker but this week, I think Derrick Barnes will get the nod. That said, regardless of which one starts, both Campbell and Barnes will get plenty of action against the Buccaneers.
TL;DR (too long didn't read)
- Focus on Defensive Strengths: The Detroit Lions are set to bring a formidable defense against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, led by EDGE players Aidan Hutchinson and Josh Paschal, along with defensive tackles Alim McNeill and Benito Jones. Hutchinson's performance will be especially crucial, as he’s expected to continue his impactful plays in the backfield.
- Secondary's Crucial Role: The Detroit Lions' pass defense, which has shown some weaknesses, will be under the spotlight. It’s imperative that the secondary, featuring Cam Sutton, Kindle Vildor, Brian Branch, Ifeatu Melifonwu, and Kerby Joseph, steps up to match the challenge posed by Baker Mayfield and Mike Evans.
- A Slight Change in Line-Up: Derrick Barnes is predicted to start as a linebacker, replacing rookie Jack Campbell from last week's configuration. This adjustment could be a strategic move to bolster the Lions’ defensive capabilities.
Bottom Line: Can the Defense step up in the Big Moments?
Last week, the Lions' defense allowed Mattew Stafford to sling the ball all over the field, but when it came to the red zone, they buckled down, holding the Rams' offense to just 23 points. If the Lions' defense can stop the run and force Buccaneers QB Baker Mayfield to make plays, he will eventually make a crucial mistake, and that will be all Detroit needs.