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How the Patriots offense can light up the Lions with Bailey Zappe – Boston Herald

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Going to battle against the NFL’s top-ranked scoring offense with a fourth-round rookie quarterback would generally spell certain doom on Sunday.

And yet every day ahead of this weekend’s kickoff with the league-leading Lions, the Patriots were slated as home favorites. Why?

Because Detroit, while talented and threatening and unusually capable this season, also owns the NFL’s worst defense. The Lions rank dead last by points allowed, Football Outsiders’ opponent-and-situation-adjusted metric DVOA, and bottom five at Pro Football Focus. Opponents have run and passed on them with little resistance.

So yes, even Bailey Zappe or a hobbled version of Mac Jones can reverse course on a 1-3 season by going through Detroit on Sunday.

Here’s how.

1. Pound the rock outside

The Patriots’ running game took the gloves off last week, pounding out 167 rushing yards and the offense’s first back-to-back touchdown drives of the season at Green Bay. Damien Harris and Co. shouldn’t put the gloves back on now.

The Lions are allowing 5.6 yards per carry, worst of any defense in the NFL. Half of their eight highest-graded run defenders at Pro Football Focus are defensive backs. Their top defensive linemen are all pass-first players: Charles Harris, Aidan Hutchinson and Julian Okwara.

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