The Jets begin the Sam Darnold era against the Lions
Monday, 7:10 p.m. ET, Ford Field, Detroit
Danny Sheridan’s line: Lions by 6 ⁄2
Jets’ keys to victory
They need to manage expectations for rookie QB Sam Darnold in his first regular-season game. The first-round pick impressed in the preseason, but making his debut on the road under the national TV lights is a different challenge. They must make early defensive stops and not fall behind to prevent Darnold from having to do too much on his own. If the Jets can stop WRs Golden Tate and Marvin Jones, they would force the Lions to run the ball, something Detroit has yet to prove it can do consistently. “I feel really comfortable with the offense, really comfortable with the guys inside this locker room,” Darnold said.
Lions’ keys to victory
They must prove the dismal preseason performance under new head coach Matt Patricia was an aberration. Detroit’s starters were soundly outplayed on both sides of the ball. Patricia kept the game plan basic, and he needs to quickly add some wrinkles, particularly on defense. DE Ezekiel Ansah and LB Devon Kennard need to develop a pass rush to keep Darnold from getting comfortable. The revamped offensive line must protect QB Matthew Stafford and let him exploit the favorable matchups, notably RB Theo Riddick and rookie RB Kerryon Johnson.
The Lions have the more proven passing attack and the playmakers in the defense who can make Darnold’s debut a rough one.