The Lions' D'Andre Swift and the Colts' Jonathan Taylor are two of the best rookie running backs in the league.
And they will square off this Sunday in their teams' Week 8 tilt at Ford Field.
Swift, Detroit's second-round pick (No. 35 overall) in the 2020 NFL Draft, holds the advantage over Taylor in the yards-per-carry and touchdown departments (with 5.3 yards per attempt and five total TDs, including one receiving).
Yet, Taylor, Indianapolis' second-round selection (No. 41 overall) in the 2020 draft, has the upper hand in both the rushing attempts and rushing yards categories (with 89 attempts and 367 yards).
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One of the keys to the Lions capturing the victory this weekend will be limiting the production of the Wisconsin product.
It's something that Detroit head coach Matt Patricia knows will be a tall task, especially after watching film on Taylor this week.
"You saw all the stuff that you saw (from him) coming out (of college). Certainly his power, his explosiveness, you see his speed. I think all of that is still there," Patricia said Thursday during a video conference with Detroit media. "When you see him get out in space -- I think you can really see that for a big guy -- he has some of that shiftiness and that smooth running style that he can really have those explosive plays. And then, certainly, I think he’s done a good job with just his vision. They run a couple different scheme runs, maybe a little bit more than what he was doing before. I think he’s doing a good job of really seeing the linebackers, feeling the defensive line, seeing the linebackers and finding those holes to getting vertical. He’s not a guy that really goes down backwards very much. He’s a guy that just keeps it downhill. I think those are really good traits for a young running back.”
The first-year pro is coming off two of his best games from a yards-per-average standpoint, with 4.8 yards per carry and five yards per rush against the Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals, respectively.
And now, he will face a Detroit defense that has allowed 4.5 yards per rush -- ranked 19th in the NFL -- and has permitted 791 total yards on the ground -- 26th-worst in the league.
Meanwhile, Swift will go up against an Indianapolis defense that has done a great job overall wise of stymieing opposing runners this season.
In its last contest before the bye, Frank Reich's defense limited the Bengals' Joe Mixon to 54 yards on 18 carries.
And through six games this year, the Colts rank No. 3 in ground yards allowed (530), No. 3 in rushing TDs allowed (four) and No. 4 in yards per attempt permitted (3.5).
It could make for a long day for Swift and the Lions' ground attack Sunday.
As a result, in this inaugural meeting between the two first-year NFL backs, I'm predicting that Taylor ends up with the more productive afternoon.
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