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Chiefs vs. Lions: Five questions with the enemy

We welcome in Pride of Detroit for answers to five questions about the Lions in the Week 4 matchup this Sunday.

NFL: DEC 16 Bears at Lions Photo by Patrick Gorski/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Editor’s note: We welcome in contributor Mike Payton of Pride of Detroit — our sister site covering the Detroit Lions — for “Five questions with the enemy” as we head into the Week 4 matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Lions, set to take place in Detroit on Sunday at Noon Arrowhead Time.

1) Lions fans are riding high with Detroit entering this game with a 2-0-1 record. What has been the most significant factor that has led to the good start?

It’s been a combination of a few things really — Matthew Stafford flourishing in a new offense, defense stepping up and good old fashioned luck. The Lions have universally been know as the team that pries a loss out of hands of victory. They so often have lost games they’ve should have won by making mistakes. This season, it’s the opposite. They’re hanging in there and finding ways to win.

In a time where everyone is judging teams by how many points they can score in one game, I think the idea of simply finding ways to win is still a viable thing in this league. I think that, more than anything, explains this team.

2) WR Kenny Golladay is the most heavily-targeted player on this team. In your eyes, has he taken the next step? How does Marvin Jones factor in?

Detroit Lions v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Golladay began to take that step out of necessity last season when the Lions lost almost all of their receivers within weeks of each other. So far this season, he has continued to take that step. But last Sunday in Philadelphia, he had the worst game of his career with several drops and miscues. I think there’s still room to grow.

As for Marvin Jones, he had a great game in Philadelphia. He’s otherwise been missing a little. That’s not to say he’s taken a step back. The Lions are utilizing every single player on the team that has the ability to catch the ball in their offense. Golladay is the only player that seems to get targeted a lot.

I, for one, love this tactic. It allows Stafford to go through his progressions and find the right receiver rather than trying to force something to happen.

3) Who’s an offensive player on the Detroit Lions more people should know? Why?

Danny Amendola is a name that everyone obviously knows already. But I don’t think anyone in Detroit thought that Amendola would be used the way he’s been used thus far.

The signing looked like one that would just put a guy on the roster to come in every now and again. But Amendola has proved that he still has it and has been a sudden favorite target for Stafford in important situations.

4. What has been the biggest factor for the Lions on defense this season? Why?

Los Angeles Chargers v Detroit Lions Photo by Amy Lemus/NurPhoto via Getty Images

It’s been the secondary. They have a vaunted defensive front on paper for sure, but they have yet to really find their stride as a unit. They do seem to get better week after week.

The secondary, on the other hand, has been special. Football Outsiders has been reporting how the Lions have one of the best units on the league all season, and Justin Coleman has frankly been the best nickel corner in the NFL this season. PFF has him graded out at 72.7 right now. He’s proven to be a really good signing.

Safeties Tracy Walker and Quandre Diggs have shown up this season, too, and Darius Slay is still obviously one of the best shut-down corners in the league. Over the course of the last eight games, no corner has allowed a lower completion percentage than Slay at 26.3%

5) How crucial is it that Slay is 100 percent healthy on Sunday? If for some reason he can’t go or has to exit the game due to the hamstring he’s dealing with, who is the next man up?

I think the last answer tells you all you need to know about Slay’s importance. He is a force on this Lions defense and quarterbacks usually don’t like to test him. He has been limited in practice all week but is pretty much expected to go.

If he can’t, it’s on Rashaan Melvin to take over the one spot, and Mike Ford to come off the bench. Melvin has looked pretty good this season as a number two. But I don’t think he has the speed or ability to take over as the team’s top corner and make a big difference. Mike Ford is good in certain situations. But for the most part, if he’s out there, Mahomes is going to beat him up.

Bonus: How does this game play out?

The Chiefs are going to win. The Lions always have this thing where they make even the best teams play down to their level. I ultimately think that’s how they can beat the Chiefs if it comes down to it. But this Chiefs team is so good that I just don’t think the Lions are capable of making it play that way.

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