The Patriots will look to turn their season around as they host the Detroit Lions on Sunday afternoon at Gillette Stadium. Prior to the season, this looked like an easy win on paper but with Bailey Zappe most likely getting the start at quarterback, the Patriots will have their hands full trying to keep up with the highest-scoring team in the NFL. The good news is that the Lions defense gives up the most points in the league so there are some areas where the Patriots can take advantage even with a rookie signal caller. Here are the key matchups to watch as the Patriots try to get back into the win column.
Key matchups for Patriots in week five
Patriots safeties/linebackers vs T.J. Hockenson
I mentioned that the Lions have the highest-scoring team in the NFL averaging 35 per game and a big reason why has been their passing game. Believe it or not, Jared Goff is off to a hot start in 2022 leading the NFL with 11 touchdown passes while being fifth in passing yards (1,126). The receivers (Amon-Ra St. Brown and Josh Reynolds) have been good but the matchup to watch this week is the tight end T.J. Hockenson against New England’s safeties and linebackers.
With St. Brown out with an ankle injury last week, Hockenson went off against the Seattle Seahawks catching eight balls for 178 yards and two touchdowns. It will be interesting to see the injury report as the week progresses, but if St. Brown remains out, the Patriots will need to key in on Hockenson. Defensively, their pass coverage has been good all year, especially on the boundaries. It’s the middle of the field and tight ends who have given them trouble. In week three, Mark Andrews of the Ravens had eight receptions for 89 yards and two touchdowns and just last week the Packers were able to hit tight end Robert Tonyan for a touchdown as he got between linebacker Mack Wilson Sr. and the safeties. In all, the Patriots have given up five touchdowns to tight ends this season.