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6 Lions Players to Watch Sunday against Cincinnati

Read more on the six Detroit Lions players to watch Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals.

When the 3-2 Bengals travel to play the 0-5 Lions, it really is a tale of two different teams that are going in two different directions.

The Bengals are trending upward with their young franchise quarterback in Joe Burrow, while the Lions are spiraling out of control with the L.A. Rams’ previous franchise QB in Jared Goff.

Burrow has looked as smooth as butter, and Goff has looked like one of those unpredictable scary rollercoaster rides.

A quarterback makes a world of a difference, which both teams are finding out.

Cincinnati and Detroit are also going in two different directions at wide receiver. Bengals star rookie Ja’Marr Chase is fast becoming a big-play threat, while Detroit is struggling to field receivers due to injuries.

Goff and his wide receivers highlight the players to watch for Detroit this Sunday.

QB Jared Goff

There is a underlying storyline in this game. Bengals head coach Zac Taylor used to be Goff’s QBs coach with the Rams. This is good for Cincinnati and bad for Detroit. That is because Taylor knows Goff, especially his weaknesses better than most.

Goff has got to find a way to fight out of this hole the team is in, or it will keep free-falling into a top three pick, which likely will usher in Goff’s replacement. Undoubtedly, Goff will have his work cut out for him, throwing to a fourth-round rookie in Amon-Ra St. Brown and a couple undrafted free-agent receivers.

Last week against Minnesota, Goff had his lowest yards-per-completion average of the season (5.8 yards), and he needs to find a way to increase that while also holding on to the football. If Goff does not figure this out fast, he could rejoin Taylor as Burrow’s backup in 2022.

RB D’Andre Swift

Through five games, it would seem Swift is the front-runner for the team’s MVP this season. He leads the team in receptions (29), and he is second in rushing (3.7 yards per carry). He has even tried to throw a pass. 

Swift has become Goff’s "bestie" statistically, and has helped him stay upright more often than not. While Cincinnati’s 10th-ranked run defense is stingy, it is imperative Swift gets going on the ground quickly with designed draw plays.

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WR KhaDarel Hodge

Maybe a new name for Lions fans, but with the injuries to the team's receivers group, it is a name to remember. Hodge burst on to the scene last week against Minnesota, catching a 2-point conversion and finding the end zone for the first time in his career on the play.

Hodge is on his fourth team in three years now, and has mostly been a special teams player up to this point, having posted 20 career receptions for a 15.6 yards-per-catch average. Ironically, Hodge was on the Rams in 2018, when Goff was there. Now, the two will look to rekindle the connection they had in Los Angeles. 


LB Jalen Reeves-Maybin

He has had a reputation as being a standout special teams player, and now, he has stepped up on defense and has made a difference. Against Minnesota, he made his presence felt, with five tackles and one forced fumble. Reeves-Maybin has been a noticeable upgrade, in terms of both production and the energy he's brought to the field. Do not be shocked to see Reeves-Maybin get some pressure on Burrow and maybe even a sack.

EDGE Charles Harris

A blessing in disguise is always a good thing, and that is what Harris has proven to be. He has gotten a sack in each of his last four games, and he has stepped up in the place of the injured Romeo Okwara. 

“The talent has always been there,” said Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn. “A lot of times as a coach, you have to make sure you can match that talent with a scheme that allows him to go out there and be successful. Right now, he’s hitting the quarterback and getting the sacks that we expect him to get.”

Cincinnati has given up the eighth-most sacks in the league so far (14), which is good news for Harris.

S Tracy Walker

After putting up 10 tackles in the Lions' three previous games, Walker put up nine tackles against Minnesota. Now, the key for Walker is consistency. Burrow is going to look for Chase deep and if he is matched up against cornerback Bobby Price, Walker is going to have to turn it on and provide help over the top. Anything less will result in a touchdown for Cincinnati.