DETROIT – The Detroit Lions have won back-to-back games and the stakes keep rising as they host Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs Sunday.
Kansas City enters this game 3-0 and are coming off a victory against the Baltimore Ravens. The Lions are 2-0-1 after a road win vs the Philadelphia Eagles.
Let's get familiar with Kansas City's key players, look at the headlines going into the game and then look at what the Lions need to do to win.
Patrick Mahomes, QB (#15): He's one of the most exciting players in the league, and he's off to an amazing start this year. Through three games, Mahomes has 10 touchdowns and zero interceptions with a league-high 1,195 passing yards. Don't forget that he can run too.
Travis Kelce, TE (#87): One of the best tight ends in the league, Kelce is one of Mahomes' favorite targets. He's hard to tackle and always seems to be open.
LeSean McCoy, RB (#25): A new addition to the Chiefs, McCoy is still shifty. He's averaging around 10 carries per game and he's also getting thrown the ball on swing passes and screens out of the backfield.
Sammy Watkins, WR (#14): Sammy Watkins is just one of three very fast wide receivers the Chiefs throw out there. So far this year Watkins leads the Chiefs in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns.
Mecole Hardman, WR (#17): Hardman, a rookie drafted from the University of Georgia, is a big play receiver who also handles return duties. Last week, he caught an 83-yard touchdown and in Week 2 he had a 41-yard touchdown catch.
Tyrann Mathieu, S (#32): The former Heisman Trophy finalist is one of the leaders in KC's secondary. He plays mostly as a box safety near the line of scrimmage and he still has a knack to always be around the ball.
Frank Clark, DE (#55): The University of Michigan product Clark was traded to KC during the offseason. He had 13 sacks last year, good for seventh in the NFL.
Meeting of the unbeatens: This is one of only two games between unbeaten teams in the NFL this week. A lot of people around the league will be watching to see if Kansas City can continue their dominance or if the Lions can make a statement about how good they might be.
Kansas City's offense comes indoors: It's the number one passing offense in the league led by the league's most dynamic player. It features three very fast receivers and a top-tier tight end. Head coach Andy Reid is one of the best offensive minds in football. Bringing all that into the controlled conditions of Ford Field poses a tough challenge for the Lions.
Chiefs' run defense: While the Chiefs can score, their weakness lies in stopping other teams, especially on the ground. Kansas City is giving up a league-worst six yards per carry.
Lions keep going: The offensive line allowed zero sacks for the second straight week, another receiver had an 100-yard game, but the run game just isn't there yet.
The defense caused turnovers and was able to make some key stops, but still gave up a lot of yards.
The special teams allowed a block field goal that almost gave the game away but scored a big touchdown a kick return.
Over the past two weeks the Lions have been doing just enough to win. What does that mean for this week?
How the Lions can win
Run the ball: Keeping the ball on the ground serves a few purposes: success will give the Lions (and fans) confidence, it keeps Matthew Stafford free of hits, and it keeps the ball out of Patrick Mahomes' hands. The better the Lions can run the ball, the better their chances of winning.
Be more efficient: In Week 3, the Lions went two for four in the red zone, they were six for 14 on third down (43%), they averaged 3.1 yards per carry and Matthew Stafford was 18 for 32 (56%). All those numbers need to be better for the Lions to beat Kansas City.
Contain Mahomes, somehow: Do you blitz, and risk one-on-one matchups or pushing Mahomes from the pocket where he can run? Or do you keep rushing three or four guys, hoping they can get pressure and work to contain Mahomes in the pocket?
The Lions will probably keep the pass rush lighter to drop more defenders against the pass.
In the end, if Detroit wants to contain Mahomes they need to stop big plays from happening. That'll take pass rush pressure, great communication and coverage, and maybe even an opportunistic turnover.