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Chiefs-Lions game preview: Will the Lions slow down Frank Clark?

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That and five other points we’re watching when the Chiefs visit the Lions on Sunday.

On this week’s game preview edition of the Arrowhead Pride Laboratory, we talked about three things on offense and three things on defense to watch in Sunday’s game.

Offense

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Jacksonville Jaguars Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Demarcus Robinson’s ascent

The fourth-year wide receiver has come on to the scene strong this season with two great games in the last two weeks. He has more yards and touchdowns (215 yards, three touchdowns) this season than he did during the first two seasons of his career (212 yards, zero touchdowns). He very well could surpass last year’s totals (288 yards and four touchdowns) this week in Detroit.

Robinson had made some exceptional plays so far this season. It’s not just Patrick Mahomes, though the chemistry these two have certainly hasn’t hurt.

Can Darwin Thompson crack the running back rotation?

We got a very small sample size of the rookie running back last week in the second half. His opportunity only came after LeSean McCoy’s ankle injury late in the game. We said it before the game—we anticipated more Darrel Williams against the Ravens, and that turned out to be true. It would have been a tall task to lean on Thompson against a tough, physical Ravens team. It could make more sense for him to get opportunities out in space against the linebackers in this game.

The offensive line will be challenged up front

Lions head coach Matt Patricia is a Bill Belichick disciple, and like the New England Patriots have in the past, Patricia will run stunts and twists on their defensive line to challenge the Chiefs offensive line. It’s been slow starts for the offensive line during the last two weeks. To be specific, Cam Erving has had early lapses that have led to hits on the quarterback. If the offense is going to get off to a good start on the road, they’ll need to be right in the first quarter. The Lions will run games up front, and the Chiefs have to be on it.

Defense

NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Kansas City Chiefs Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

How the Lions account for Frank Clark

Clark has been garnering attention through three games this season. The Ravens avoided running at him for the majority of last game and provided Ronnie Stanley help in protection all day long. This week, Clark will be lined up against Taylor Decker. They could elect not to give Decker much help, affording the defensive end some opportunities to slow down the narratives on his statistical production to this point. If they do focus on Clark, someone else will need to step up.

Can the Chiefs handle the vertical passing game?

Marvin Jones and Kenny Golladay present a significant challenge down the field, and the Lions have a quarterback who can give them opportunities in Matthew Stafford. Both Jones and Golladay are good at the catch point, and make for big, athletic targets. Charvarius Ward and Bashaud Breeland weren’t challenged all that much down the field this week, but Baltimore missed on some opportunities to Marquise “Hollywood” Brown and Myles Boykin. The pass rush will need to help keep the opportunities at a minimum, and the cornerbacks will have to play well.

The linebackers against outside runs

This position group is significantly improved. The scheme is putting them in better position to make plays, but there are still some issues with their sideline-to-sideline speed. To this point, outside runs have been a struggle. Anthony Hitchens and Damien Wilson have played well, but they aren’t particularly speed demons. Darron Lee could be a solution to help the unit get out on the edge against a team that should challenge them outside this week.


Arrowhead Pride Laboratory

We went into further detail on these storylines and listed players we’re looking forward to watching on the game preview edition of the Arrowhead Pride Laboratory.