The Detroit Lions and their playoff failures are well known, having only two playoff victories since their last championship in 1957. One of those wins came in the wild-card round last week, as the Lions are one victory away from their first conference championship game since the 1991 season.
Detroit hosts its second playoff game in as many weeks, the first time in franchise history the Lions ever had that honor. The Lions will take on a Tampa Bay Buccaneers team that has been overlooked because of their nine regular-season victories, even though the Buccaneers have won six of their last seven games to get to this point.
The Buccaneers are seeking their fifth conference championship game appearance in team history (first since 2020 season) while the Lions are seeking to snap the second-longest active conference championship game appearance drought in the league. The Lions beat the Buccaneers, 20-6, in Week 6 of the season, while the Buccaneers emerged victorious in the lone playoff meeting between the franchises (Tampa Bay won, 20-10, in 1997).
Which team will come out on top in this divisional-round showdown? Here's a preview of along with a prediction:
How to watch
Lions vs. the blitz
For the Lions to move the ball against the Buccaneers defense, Jared Goff will have to prepare for the heavy amount of pressure he's about to receive. In the Buccaneers' wild-card win over the Philadelphia Eagles, Tampa Bay blitzed on 54% of the defensive plays -- the highest by any team in playoff game since the Buccaneers beat the New Orleans Saints in the 2020 divisional round (head coach Todd Bowles was the defensive coordinator). The Buccaneers blitzed on 78% of the third-down plays, the second highest by any team in a playoff game over the last 15 years.
Jared Goff had a 94.0 passer rating against the blitz this season, throwing 13 touchdowns to six interceptions. Goff is turnover prone against the blitz and when facing pressure overall. He has just six touchdowns to nine interceptions when facing pressure with a 62.5 rating.
The Buccaneers are going to test Goff with multiple blitz designs. Goff better be ready to get rid of the ball quick.
Detroit pass defense
The Lions secondary certainly had their struggles this season, giving up 7.8 yards per attempt (31st in NFL). The 28 pass touchdowns the Lions gave up were 27th in the NFL, while the opponent passer rating was at 91.5 (21st in NFL).
Matthew Stafford was able to tear up the Lions secondary, throwing for 357 yards and two touchdowns for a 120.9 passer rating. When the quarterback was pressured, Stafford had a 63.7 rating (5 of 11). Clearly, the Lions will need to pressure Baker Mayfield this weekend to have any degree of success, especially with their struggles in coverage.
Regardless, the Buccaneers don't run the ball well at all (32nd in rushing yards and yards per carry). This may be a good matchup for Mayfield to throw the ball 40-plus times.
The Lions are going to be tough to beat at home, and they should be able to move the ball against the Buccaneers -- even if they are allowing just 15.3 points per game over the last seven games. The Lions should challenge the Buccaneers on the ground with David Montgomery and Jahmyr Gibbs in order to set up play-action. Montgomery should play a major role in the Lions controlling the clock (Lions are ninth in average time of possession on offense).
Tampa Bay is going to be a tough out, but this game comes down to Goff. If he doesn't turn the ball over multiple times, the Lions win. Let's back on that happening. Pick: Lions 27, Buccaneers 24