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Week eight of the 2023 NFL Season brought some wild and unexpected outcomes. This week's Monday Night Football matchup could be as shocking as last week's matchup, when the Minnesota Vikings upset the 49ers 22-17 at home. This week, the Las Vegas Raiders (3-4) are set to go on the road to take on the heavily favored Detroit Lions (5-2).
The Raiders started the season with a 1-3 overall record. They started to feel good about their season after two consecutive home wins over Green Bay and New England. That changed last week, however, as they suffered a brutal loss last week at the Chicago Bears 30-12.
The Detroit Lions have turned from last year's Cinderella team to a serious NFC Championship contender this season. After a season-opening win at the Kansas City Chiefs, the Lions battled to a 5-1 overall record in week seven. Like the Raiders, the Lions also suffered a brutal loss last week by losing to the Baltimore Ravens 38-6.
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Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is back under center after missing last week’s tough to the Bears. Even with Garoppolo back, a high-caliber wide receiver Davante Adams and last year’s league-leading back, the Raiders have a terrible offense. The Raiders are ranked 30th in the league in points per game (16) and 28th in total yards per game (284.1). Much of the blame can be placed on the lack of efficiency at the offensive line and the poor communication from the coaching staff to the players.
The Lions’ defense is a unit that is out for dominance early and often. While there is some work to be done to become a more efficient unit, the defense is young and has potential. The Lions are ranked second in the league in rushing yards allowed per game (76.3) and 10th in total yards allowed per game (316.9). Second-year defensive end Aidan Hutchinson and rookie safety Brian Branch are the building blocks of a potentially elite defense in the future.
The Lions’ offense has the potential to be one of the most explosive and dynamic offenses in the league. Last week, however, Detroit had shown its biggest weakness by accounting for only 337 against the high-caliber defense of the Ravens. They could be without their star wide receiver, Amon-Ra St. Brown, who is listed as questionable due to an illness. The Lions would love to see the first impact game from second-year receiver Jameson Williams, but he has failed to create an impact since returning from suspension. This game would be a solid opportunity for him to return to help the Lions in case Brown is out.
The Raiders’ defense is performing past expectations before the start of the season, but not by much. As a defense overall, they’re putting all of their stock on the productivity of defensive end Maxx Crosby. In seven games this season, Crosby has accounted for 40 total tackles, nine tackles for loss, nine quarterback hits and 6.5 sacks. There are still plenty of defensive holes that Detroit’s offense can exploit.
With the Lions' top running back in David Montgomery out, that will leave rookie running back Jahmyr Gibbs to make his mark in the backfield. Gibbs has been used as a flex weapon and an extra receiver in the backfield. This game is Gibbs' greatest chance to play like a traditional running back.
The Lions’ 2022 first-round pick has been in a slump since returning from the league’s issued gambling suspension. That is to be expected as the Lions are being patient with him, but the potential limitation of Amon-Ra St. Brown (if he even plays) could force Williams to step up.
The Raiders' defense expects to be busy dealing with a dynamic set of playmakers on the Lions' offense. Leading the charge in Las Vegas, outside of Maxx Crosby, is linebacker Robert Spillane. In seven games played, Spillane has accounted for a team-high 57 total tackles, with 30 of them being solo tackles. He is averaging more than eight tackles per game.
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Michael Hanich is a sports journalist/analyst with a wide variety of experience in the newspaper and digital field. He has a love for all sports. The leagues that he covers are College Football, the NFL, the NBA, the NHL, College Basketball (men’s and women’s), the MLB, Lacrosse, Volleyball, and the WNBA.More info on Michael Hanich
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