The Detroit Lions will look to extend their three-game winning streak this Thanksgiving. It won't be easy as they face off against one of the best teams in the NFL, the Buffalo Bills. The Bills are 7-3 with some big wins over other contenders like the Chiefs and Ravens. However, with how the Lions have been playing, anything can happen. But, to pull off the upset some players will have to step up. Here are which key matchups the Lions need to win to get the upset.
What are the key matchups fo the Detroit Lions matchup with the Bills?
Detroit Lions Key Matchup #1: Kerby Joseph vs Bills' stud WR group
All three teams the Lions defeated in their win streak had subpar passing attacks. This Bills definitely do not have that problem as Josh Allen, Stefon Diggs, and Gabe Davis form one of the best passing trios in the league. To make matters worse, the Lions will likely be without their best corner Jeff Okudah, who is recovering from a concussion. Jerry Jacobs is fearless and has played pretty well, but he and Amani Oruwariye will need help to limit the Bills' explosive offense.
To help the corners, the Lions will need rookie Kerby Joseph to help out by playing over the top. The Lions need him to star as a center fielder playing as the deep safety. Joseph needs to show off his range to help on whichever receiver is going deep. Joseph needs to limit the big plays to force the Bills to move methodically down the field. If they can, it will give the Lions chances to force a turnover or get a sack or other negative play to stall the drive. If the Lions can't stop the deep pass, the Bills will be able to score at will as it opens up the rest of the offense.
Detroit Lions Key Matchup #2: Alim McNeill vs Roger Saffold
Coming off the best game of his career and one of the best of the season, Alim McNeill will have a chance to repeat this week, and the Lions will need him. At right guard, the Bills start former Pro Bowler Roger Saffold. Saffold has had a good career, but with a PFF grade of 50, Saffold has been below average and the weakest link on a stacked Bills' offense. Facing an elite offense, the Lions need to take advantage of whatever weaknesses they can find.
Facing another mobile quarterback, Aidan Hutchinson and the other defensive ends will be tasked with keeping the incredibly mobile Allen in the pocket. While they do that, the line's interior needs to generate pressure and push the pocket to disrupt Allen. If McNeill is able to do that, he will bother Allen and help the banged-up secondary. That is likely the only chance the Lions will have to slow down one of the best passing attacks in the league.
Detroit Lions Key Matchup #3: Taylor Decker & Peneii Sewell vs Von Miller
No matter what side Von Miller lines up on, this matchup will be must-watch TV. Miller is still a premier pass rusher, but he will have his hands full with Taylor Decker and Peneii Sewell. Decker has been on a personal hot streak giving up 0 pressures in the last two weeks, and Sewell is already one of the best tackles in the league as a sophomore. This matchup is pure strength on strength, which could determine the success of the Lions' offense.
Besides the tackles, the Lions' offensive line will be banged up on Thursday. Jonah Jackson and Evan Brown suffered injuries on Sunday, and both will likely be out on Thursday. Between them, center Frank Ragnow is still limited by his toe injury. To help the reserves at guard, the Lions will have to use their running backs and tight ends to help prevent interior pressure. This will mean that the tackles will have to hold up one on one against Von Miller. It will be no easy task, but it will be needed or the interior of the line will be vulnerable against a talented defensive line.