The Jets be­gin the Sam Darnold era against the Lions

USA TODAY Sports Weekly - - INSIDE - Jeff Ris­don

Mon­day, 7:10 p.m. ET, Ford Field, Detroit

TV: ESPN

Danny Sheri­dan’s line: Lions by 6 ⁄2

1

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.

Who wins?

The Lions have the more proven pass­ing at­tack and the play­mak­ers in the de­fense who can make Darnold’s de­but a rough one.

Lions, 29-20

ERIC HARTLINE/USA TO­DAY SPORTS

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