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[SPORTA NEWS}@@ Detroit Lions vs Los Angeles Rams Live Free ((WATCH ONLINE)) [™]

Here's Rams vs. Lions: Time, how to watch, live stream, key matchups, prediction for Super Wild Card Weekend The NFL playoffs are finally here, and one of the marquee matchups of the weekend is a game that pits a number of players against their former teams as the No. 3-seed Detroit Lions play host to the No. 6-seed Los Angeles Rams on Sunday night.



Detroit and L.A. executed one of the most significant trades in recent league history just three years ago, with the teams swapping Matthew Stafford for Jared Goff and draft picks. The Rams won the Super Bowl, then dramatically regressed, and are now back in the tournament. The Lions have slowly but surely built things up, and are now hosting a playoff game for the first time in 30 years.

Which of these teams will advance to the divisional round? We'll find out soon enough. Before we break down the matchup, here's a look at how you can watch the game.

How to watch

Date: Sunday, Jan. 14 | Time: 8 p.m. ET

Location: Ford Field (Detroit)

Follow: CBS Sports App

Odds: Lions -3; O/U 52 (via SportsLine consensus odds)

When the Rams have the ball

I wouldn't necessarily call this as "revenge game" from the perspective of Matthew Stafford, who was traded to a much better situation and immediately won a Super Bowl, rather than having to spend the past few years navigating through a rebuild. But it will still of course be fascinating to watch him play against his former team, which made him the No. 1 overall pick in the draft back in 2009.

Since returning from his one-week injury absence, Stafford has been on fire, completing 65.8% of his passes at an average of 7.8 yards per attempt, with 16 touchdowns against four interceptions. He's elevating teammates, helping Puka Nacua to rookie receiving records, getting Cooper Kupp back in rhythm, and even turning Demarcus Robinson into a major passing-game contributor.

Detroit's defense showed some improvement down the stretch of the season after going through a disastrous spell from Weeks 10 through 14 during which the Lions allowed at least 26 points in ive straight games. Over the last few weeks, though, Detroit allowed Nick Mullens to tear it up through the air twice, depending almost exclusively on turnovers (eight in the final three weeks of the year) to get stops. If Stafford can avoid giving the ball away, there should be plenty of opportunity for him to find success.

Nacua and Kupp will have strong matchups wherever they line up. The Lions checked in 23rd in FTN's DVOA against No. 1 receivers and 20th against No. 2s. Cam Sutton is the team's strongest cover corner. Kindle Vildor and Jerry Jacobs have been liabilities. Brian Branch has been a playmaker in the slot and C.J. Gardner-Johnson could be back to play a larger role, but this remains a below-average coverage unit. Kyren Williams could have an advantage against the Lions' linebackers in coverage as well. So long as the Rams are able to protect Stafford in the pocket and give him enough time for the routes to develop down the field, these guys should eat.

The biggest area of concern in protection will come on the right side of the offensive line, where Rob Havenstein will have to deal with Aidan Hutchinson. It seems likely that the Rams will this keep one or both of Tyler Higbee (or Davis Allen, if Higbee can't go with his injury) and Williams in to pass protect, with special attention paid to Hutchinson on those plays with chips and help. The rest of the Lions' pass rush is not particularly imposing, and the L.A. offensive line has held up quite well throughout this year despite playing a rookie guard in Steve Avila and having benched Joe Noteboom in favor of Alaric Jackson.

Detroit's defense was better against the run than the pass, checking in first in rush defense DVOA and allowing only 1.16 yards before contact per attempt, according to Tru Media, the ninth-best mark in the league. Kyren Williams was outrageously productive after returning from injury, though, totaling 688 yards on 131 carries (5.3 per attempt). He topped 4.5 yards per carry in four of his six games and ran for at least 87 yards in all six. Williams isn't an elite athlete and doesn't have breakaway speed, but he's very shifty and very good at breaking tackles. His 22.4% avoided tackle rate was 11th best out of 53 players with 100 or more carries this year, per TruMedia, so the Lions will need to make sure they're on their game in that department.

When the Lions have the ball

Aaron Donald said it best earlier this week, when talking about his former teammate, Jared Goff. "We know he's not the most mobile guy, but when he's got a clean pocket and he's able to make all the right throws, he can do that," Donald said. "So we just got to do a great job of finding ways to put pressure on him, make him uncomfortable, and hopefully we get to him."

That is exactly right. If the Lions can keep Goff well-protected in the pocket, he can and likely will make all the throws -- especially in the friendly confines of the Ford Field dome. We have seen that throughout his career and especially since he arrived in Detroit three years ago.

The most important matchup when it comes to pass protection will be the one against Donald. He is the most dangerous interior pass-rusher in the league, capable of wrecking any opponent's game plan. Luckily for Detroit, the strength of its offensive line is up the middle, with the weak link right now looking like left tackle Taylor Decker. Perhaps Byron Young and/or Michael Hoecht can take advantage of him on the perimeter. The Lions can provide help on that side while leaving Penei Sewell one on one on the other, and having their interior trio combine to deal with Donald and explosive rookie Kobie Turner.

There are some mild concerns for the pass game even if the Lions can keep Goff protected. Sam LaPorta suffered what initially looked like a possible season-ending injury last week, but he went DNP-DNP-Full practice this week and was listed as questionable. He shouldn't be expected to be at full strength for this game, and if he's not, that could have knock-on effects for the rest of the aerial attack.

Amon-Ra St. Brown and running back Jahmyr Gibbs figure to be Goff's primary targets, though, and they should each have strong matchups. It'll likely be Cobie Durant and/or Quentin Lake in the slot for the Rams, and with St. Brown aligning there on nearly 60% of his routes, per Pro Football Focus, he should have a major advantage no matter what. The Lions love to target him on in-breaking routes over the middle, and the Rams were only average defending the middle of the field, per FTN's DVOA. They were ninth in DVOA on throws to running backs, but Gibbs' speed and elusiveness provides mismatch opportunities against pretty much all linebackers and safeties.

We know that the basis of Detroit's aerial attack is the play-action game, and the Rams largely struggled to defense play-action passes this year. They ranked 26th in EPA/dropback on run-fake passes, per TruMedia, allowing opponents to complete 77 of 124 passes for an average of 8.5 yards per attempt, and they generated pressure on only 27.7% of play-action dropbacks -- the third-lowest rate in the NFL.

Still, the Lions are likely to want to lean on the run game. They have been one of the run-heaviest teams in the NFL this season relative to their expected pass rate, and with LaPorta banged up, they will presumably feel better about Gibbs and David Montgomery than they do about their ancillary passing weapons. L.A. finished just 20th in run defense DVOA, and allowed the league's fifth-most yards before contact per attempt (1.73). The Lions should have enough room to run if they want to control the game that way.


The Lions are everyone's favorite darlings, and they're a really good team. When it comes to closely contested playoff matchups, though, I tend to lean toward the quarterback I feel better about, and the team with the stars to take over the contest. In this case, that means Stafford and Donald and Nacua and Kupp pulling off the upset.

Score: Rams 27, Lions 24

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