DETROIT – Matt Patricia had one of the best coaching gigs in the NFL, serving as defensive coordination under Bill Belichick on the staff of the New England Patriots.
Patricia parlayed his success in that post into his first head coaching job with the Detroit Lions, but he will have to beat Belichick and the visiting Patriots on Sunday night to earn his first career victory.
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TV: 8:20 p.m. ET, NBC. LINE: Patriots -6.5. O/U: 53.5
Aside from matching wits with his mentor Belichick, Patricia must find a way to slow three-time NFL MVP Tom Brady, who is coming off a rare clunker in a 31-20 loss at Jacksonville.
"Patriots are a great team, great ownership, great head coach, great players and we've got a huge challenge in front of us," said Patricia, who spent 14 seasons with New England, six as defensive coordinator. "You know, you just try to keep it to the game." S
unday's game could mark the Patriots debut of wide receiver Josh Gordon, who has been a limited participant in practice since he was acquired from the Cleveland Browns earlier this week. New England is 45-6 after a loss since the 2003 season, last dropping back-to-back regular-season games in 2015.
ABOUT THE PATRIOTS (1-1)
New England's defense looks like it could use Patricia back in his previous role after it allowed Jacksonville's Blake Bortles to throw for 376 yards and four touchdowns in last week's romp. Trey Flowers, the team's top defensive lineman, was knocked out of last week's game with a concussion and safety Patrick Chung also suffered a concussion -- both have yet to practice this week and their availability looks increasingly in question.
Brady did connect with wideout Chris Hogan for a pair of scoring passes but James White was the leading receiver with seven catches for 73 yards. Rookie running back Sony Michel rushed for a team-high 34 yards on 10 carries in his NFL debut.
ABOUT THE LIONS (0-2)
Detroit was shredded by the New York Jets 48-17 in the season opener at home and fell behind by 17 points in the fourth quarter before Matthew Stafford threw a pair of touchdown passes in the three-point defeat. Stafford has attempted 99 passes as the revamped running game has sputtered, with rookie Kerryon Johnson managing a team-high 60 yards on 13 carries.
While Golden Tate and running back Theo Riddick share the team lead with 14 catches, Kenny Golladay is emerging at a dangerous weapon for Stafford with 13 receptions for a club-high 203 yards and a score. The Lions could be without one of their top defenders with cornerback Darius Slay unable to practice this week due to a concussion.
1. Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski has 10 receptions for 143 in the last two matchups versus Detroit.
2. Stafford has thrown for 2,900 yards and 20 touchdowns in his last 10 home games.
3. New England is 52-13 against the NFC since realignment in 2002, the NFL's best inter-conference record in that span.
PREDICTION: Patriots 30, Lions 23