In this highly-anticipated Week 1 match-up between the Detroit Lions and the Kansas City Chiefs, we will see one of the most high-powered offenses from this past season led by defending MVP Patrick Mahomes clash in a game against Jared Goff which will determine the trajectory of their season. Beyond that, there are several factors that will shape this game. Here are five keys for the Chiefs on how to win this Thursday.
1. Bring aggressiveness at the line of scrimmage on defense (With or Without Jones):
One notable reason why the Chiefs finished 11th in the NFL in total defense this past season is their more combined style of aggressive and conservative play-calling by Defense Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. Offenses often see only three, four-man rushes (conventional) and five-man rushes (aggressive) while the rest of their defense sits back in coverage. That led to better protection against the deep ball while also preventing big plays from occurring. But one of, if not, one of the best Lions players on offense is running back David Montgomery and rookie Jahmyr Gibbs. One of Montgomery’s keys to success is his patience at the line of scrimmage as he waits for blocks to form and running lanes to open with power and Gibbs is a reliable 3rd down back that replaces the production of D’Andre Swift from the past season with his speed and pass-catching ability at the line of scrimmage similar to Reggie Bush and Chiefs running back Jerick McKinnon. If the Chiefs can be more aggressive than they usually are with how many players they have at the line of scrimmage hopefully with Chris Jones, they will have a better chance of slowing both of the Lions rushers down.
Jahmyr Gibbs vs New York Giants, Preseason Week 2.
All rush attempts, targets, and pass protection snaps. pic.twitter.com/wuGWAGmFdm
— Zareh Kantzabedian (@ZKantzFF) August 12, 2023
2. Attack the secondary of the Lions:
The Lions’ starting secondary consists of seven-year cornerback Cameron Sutton, six-year cornerback Emmanuel Moseley, second-year safety Kerby Joseph, and newly signed veteran C.J. Gardner Johnson. Johnson’s exceptional play last season is sometimes overlooked, but he has often had to step up for the Eagles due to the youth among the rest of their secondary that the Chiefs exploited last season in Super Bowl 57. Now with the Lions, Joseph, Sutton, and Moseley are all solid players considering the circumstances but have sometimes proven to make “youth” mistakes especially when the majority of their secondary is new to the system. The Chiefs currently have Skyy Moore along with dangerous deep threat Marquez Valdes-Scantling to go along with the young, emerging rookie Rashee Rice and second-year standout Justyn Ross. We also have Richie James. Compared to last season, the Chiefs are in much better shape at wide receiver. Against a talented but sometimes mistake-prone secondary, the Chiefs will need to exploit that potential advantage.
YOU GOT ROSS'D pic.twitter.com/YOSXNLJdEk
— Kansas City Chiefs (@Chiefs) August 26, 2023
3. Take advantage of Detriot’s young linebacker core:
By the end of the season, the Lions could boast one of the best linebacker duos in Malcolm Rodriguez and rookie Jack Campbell. But both players in combined years shows how youthful they are and the team could struggle for some time trying to get consistent production from both players when Campbell is new to the Lions. It will also take the combined efforts of second-year outside linebackers James Houston, Alex Anzalone, and Derrick Barnes to provide a somewhat productive stable of linebackers opposite Rodriguez and Campbell. But with Barnes being predominantly a run-stopping linebacker with Houston and Anzalone offering little in pass rush or pass coverage, the Chiefs would be wise to attack this weakness. Whether it’s just Travis Kelce or potentially Noah Gray as well, the Chiefs should target their tight end(s) (and Jerick McKinnon, who could also see linebacker coverage when lining up out of the backfield) early and often to try to exploit this flaw in the Lions defense and move the ball down the field.
When Jason Kelce got hip tossed by Malcolm Rodriguez 😂
— Woodward Sports Network (@woodwardsports) July 13, 2023
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