New England Patriots vs. Detroit Lions: Four Matchups To Watch

4 of 5

Nov 2, 2014; Foxborough, MA, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) throws over New England Patriots linebacker Akeem Ayers during the fourth quarter of New England

Akeem Ayers vs. Riley Reiff/LaAdrian Waddle

Without a doubt the weakest area of this Lions team is their offensive line. Detroit is ranked 28th in the league in sacks allowed per game, and are showing absolutely no signs of improvement after giving up four sacks against the Cardinals last week.

Without Chandler Jones, the Patriots aren’t nearly as explosive in their pass rush, but they still have one guy that is really capable of going off and dominating a game on the edge. Akeem Ayers and the Pats front seven only managed one sack on Andrew Luck last week, but a big part of that was by design. Given Luck’s history with making big plays on the ground, the Patriots simply played a defense that made it hard for Luck to escape the pocket and pick up significant yards. New England stayed in their lanes, and in a sense “spyed” Luck from start to finish.

Don’t expect that this week.

Akeem Ayers, Dominique Easley, and Rob Ninkovich will be coming hard after the struggling Detroit offensive line, especially if Brady and the Patriots offense gets out to an early lead once again. If Ayers can win his individual matchup with either of the two tackles, this could be very long day for Stafford’s offense. Also look for Dont’a Hightower and Jamie Collins to blitz often up the middle, something that has been extremely effective this year for the Pats.