Offseason Opponent Breakdown: The Detroit Lions

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The 2018 NFL Season is still a few months from its official kickoff date, but the opponents for all 32 clubs have already been set. 

Aside from their divisional opponents, the Rams will face teams from the NFC North and AFC West. Plus, Los Angeles will take on the reigning division champions from the NFC East and NFC South.

In anticipation of the official schedule release date in mid-April, theRams.com will be taking an early look at each of club's opponents for next season.

THE DETROIT LIONS

LOCATION:The Rams will travel to Ford Field next season to take on the Lions.

HEAD COACH:Matt Patricia will be entering his first season as an NFL head coach with the Lions in 2018. He spent the better part of his career with New England serving in a variety of roles, but most recently as the club's defensive coordinator. Patricia's 13-year tenure with the Patriots included 12 AFC East Division Titles, six AFC Championships, and three Super Bowl wins.

MATCHUP HISTORY:The two franchises have met 85 times in series history with the Rams holding a slight advantage at 43-41-1. Los Angeles last traveled to Detroit in 2016 and lost a close contest after kicker Matt Prater made a tie-breaking field goal to give the Lions a 31-28 victory. 

2017 RECORD: The Lions finished with a 9-7 overall record last season, good for second place in the NFC North.


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WHO'S IN, WHO'S OUT?**

The signing of veteran running back and Super Bowl Champion LeGarrette Blount was perhaps the most important for the Lions this offseason. Detroit had the worst run game in the NFL in 2017, averaging just 76.3 yards per game and 3.4 rushing yards per attempt. But Blount — who has history with Patricia as a member of the Patriots — gained over 4.0 yards per attempt in four of his last five seasons and should help boost the Lions' ground attack next year.  

Detroit also added another former Patriot in linebacker Jonathan Freeny, who could compete for a starting spot should the Lions use a 3-4 scheme. The club also placed the franchise tag on defensive end Ezekiel Ansah, who recorded 12.0 sacks and 44 tackles in 2017, while re-signing key pieces in the secondary like safety Tavon Wilson and cornerback Nevin Lawson.

WHAT ABOUT THE DRAFT?

The Lions hold the 20th overall pick and are expected to go after a defensive player in the first-round. Several mock drafts have Detroit picking up a pass-rusher like Maurice Hunt (Michigan) or Harold Landry (Boston College). But if Patricia and company decide to further focus on the team's ground attack, running backs like LSU's Derrius Guice or Georgia's Nick Chubb are also viable options.

LOOK OUT FOR:

The Rams newest addition, Ndamukong Suh, taking on his former team. Suh was drafted by the Lions as the second overall pick in the 2010 draft and played five seasons in Detroit before moving on to Miami. It should be interesting to see how the Rams new defensive line fares against quarterback Matt Stafford and the Lions' revamped running game.

Check out photos of the Rams taking on the Detroit Lions through the years.

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