For the second straight week the Detroit Lions are hosting a playoff game at Ford Field, this time against the No. 4 seed Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Divisional Round of the playoffs. It’s a rematch of a Week 6 matchup in Tampa Bay that Detroit won 20-6.
With a win this afternoon, the Lions will play in the NFC Championship Game for the first time since 1991 in San Francisco against the No. 1 seed 49ers. The 49ers beat the Packers Saturday night in the other NFC Divisional matchup.
Here are five things to watch out for in this afternoon’s matchup:
Tampa Bay head coach Todd Bowles plays an aggressive style of defense that saw the Bucs’ defense blitz 40.1 percent of the time this season, which ranked third highest in the NFL behind only Minnesota (51.5) and the New York Giants (45.4). It helped produce 48 sacks, which were seventh most in the NFL.
Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson said this week he has a secret weapon against the blitz – center Frank Ragnow.
“We put a lot on his plate, both run-game and pass-game, so he does a great job getting fronts identified for the rest of the offensive line and in the protection game with the running backs and the tight ends,” Johnson said. “So, he really is a key cog in what we do and I can’t say enough good things about him. Experienced player that’s seen a lot of football, and even when we get un-scouted looks, he can find a solution for us more times than not.”
The Lions ranked fourth in the NFL this season in STATS INC.’s “Protection Index,” which is a statistic that measures offensive line play using different statistical elements like passing attempts and yards (excluding yards after the catch), sacks, quarterback knockdowns, hurries and penalties, including holding and false starts. The 31 sacks they allowed this year were the fourth fewest. They ranked fifth best in quarterback hurries allowed.