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Week 8 Preview: Lions at Chiefs

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The Sports Xchange

Detroit Lions (1-6) vs. Kansas City Chiefs (2-5)

Sunday, 9:30 a.m. ET, at Wembley Stadium, London – TV: FOX

*TV announcers: Sam Rosen, John Lynch, Pam Oliver

*Keys to the game: The horror show that is the Detroit offensive line ushers a battered QB Matt Stafford into England days after coordinator Joe Lombardi was fired. The Chiefs fired up their stagnant pass rush last week, when OLB Tamba Hali had two sacks in the fourth quarter, and Kansas City’s strength on the edges is a frightening thought for Stafford. Without a running game to fall back on – the Lions are 32nd in the NFL in rushing – new coordinator Jim Bob Cooter plans to feature WRs Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate. Tate, who is averaging a career-low 9.4 yards per catch, hasn’t topped 40 receiving yards in five games but has a favorable matchup.

The Chiefs aren’t without o-line woes and use jumbo personnel to control the line on occasion. The Lions have struggled defending the middle of the field. Kansas City tight end Travis Kelce could be a big problem for Detroit, considering the Lions have already allowed five touchdowns to tight ends this season. Positioning will be key for FS Glover Quin, especially with WR Jeremy Maclin returning to the lineup from a concussion.

*Matchup to watch – Chiefs CBs Sean Smith and Marcus Peters vs. Lions WR Calvin Johnson: Johnson has five-plus catches in each of the past four games. The Chiefs have allowed five different receivers 100 yards or more in a game, tied for the most in the league with Atlanta and Baltimore. Three of those 100-yard games came at the start of the season when Smith was out because of an NFL suspension. But K.C. has given up 100-plus games in its most recent games with Smith never leaving the field.

*Player spotlight – Chiefs RB Charcandrick West: One of three undrafted rookies to post a 100-yard game this season (Thomas Rawls, Seahawks; Chris Ivory, Jets), coach Andy Reid said West’s 110-yard effort last week is a major confidence builder, primarily because of his 53 yards in the fourth quarter.

*Fast facts: The Lions have 13 touchdowns passing compared to two rushing and 70 percent of their offensive plays have been passes. … Chiefs LB Justin Houston has 19 sacks in his past 17 games.

WHO WILL WIN AND WHY

Until the Lions find a running game they’re going to be in games decided in the final quarter, but protection can’t hold up against the Chiefs’ strong front seven. A takeaway or two by the Chiefs in the second half leaves the Lions humming a losing tune.

*Our pick: Chiefs 28-20.


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