The Detroit Lions have a chance to head into their bye week undefeated. In order to reach that goal, however, they’ll have to slow down the league’s most dynamic offense.
Opposing defensive coordinators this season haven’t had any more luck keeping Patrick Mahomes in check than they did last season, when he tossed 50 touchdown passes.
The Kansas City Chiefs’ third-year quarterback has already thrown for 10 scores without an interception while leading his club to a 3-0 start. They’ll take on the 2-0-1 Lions in Detroit on Sunday.
Lions second-year coach Matt Patricia, New England’s former defensive coordinator, would prefer an easier assignment.
“On the sidelines is probably where I’d like to see him the most,” Patricia told reporters this week of Mahomes.
Patricia won’t have that luxury against a team that’s averaging 33.7 points.
“He’s a really good young player,” Patricia said. “Every single play, it’s extremely dangerous. He can get that thing downfield. He’s does a great job, too, of just controlling. There’s an element to this offense that’s definitely a ball control passing game.”
Mahomes’ ability to pick his spots, then gash the defense with a deep shot, puts secondaries on their heels.
In the Chiefs’ season opener, he hooked up with Sammy Watkins on scoring strikes of 68 and 49 yards. Against Oakland the following week, he connected with Demarcus Robinson for 44- and 39-yard touchdowns and Mecole Hardman from 42 yards out.
Last week against Baltimore, Mahomes aired it out with Hardman once again for an 83-yard TD.
“It’s just such a dangerous offense to try to defend against,” Patricia said.
Mahomes has the freedom to improvise and full command of the huddle.
“He’s a competitor. He’s the leader of that bunch,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said of his quarterback. “He’s the one on the field, so if he wants certain things out of a play, then as a player you’ve got to get those things down. That’s where my trust in him and the coaches’ trust in him comes in. You want to make sure you’re demanding the right things and he’s very good with that.”
The Chiefs’ receiving corps hasn’t missed a beat despite the absence of top threat Tyreek Hill, who remains sidelined by a shoulder injury. Robinson (21.5 yards per catch) and Hardman (26.3) have stretched defenses vertically to keep the attack humming.
“They can run, and run fast and they both have a good feel for the game,” Reid said.
Top running back Damien Williams (knee) missed the Ravens game and didn’t practice on Wednesday. Tackle Eric Fisher (groin) is also sidelined. Hill, Williams and Fisher all missed Wednesday’s practice.
The Chiefs will likely have to rely once again on the backfield combination of Darrel Williams and LeSean McCoy to provide some balance.
For his part, Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford has been solid, completing 62.6 percent of his attempts with six touchdowns compared to two interceptions. Detroit has thus overcome an ineffective running game averaging only 3.4 yards per rush.
The Lions defense has forced two turnovers in each of the last two games.
“They’ve got a good scheme and play hard,” Reid said. “They tackle well and they’ve made a living off of turnovers.”
However, Detroit may be without some key regulars. Defensive tackle Mike Daniels is battling a foot issue, while top cover corner Darius Slay is nursing a hamstring injury. Daniels missed Wednesday’s practice, while Slay was limited. Another cornerback, Rashaan Melvin, is dealing with a sore knee and was limited. Offensively, slot receiver Danny Amendola sat out with a chest injury.
—Field Level Media