Last year, the Detroit Lions NFL picks often came down to how well they were able to run the football. They didn’t have a single rusher account for even 400 yards though, and they went through three different starters in the backfield thanks to injuries. Kevin Smith was the back at the tail end of the season, and as he really has proven already in just one game this year, he really is the only hope that Detroit has of keeping a balanced rushing attack going into this week’s game against the San Francisco 49ers.
Jahvid Best was expected to come in and be that flashy type of runner and receiver that had the ability to change the offense for the Lions. Unfortunately, the former first round NFL Draft pick has since been dealing with a slew of concussions, and he is on the PUP list for the first month and a half of the year.
Enter: Smith, a former rushing guru with the Central Florida Knights in college that saw his time as the running back of these very Lions come to a close because – you guessed it – he couldn’t stay healthy.
In last week’s escape of a victory against the St. Louis Rams, Smith rushed for 62 yards and caught four passes for 29 yards. He scored once as a receiver and once as a rusher, and both trips to the end zone came in the fourth quarter.
This week, Smith knows that he is going to have to do quite a bit against one of the most fierce defenses in the league. As we found out last year when the Lions played against the 49ers, just throwing the ball 50 times isn’t going to get the job done. Yes, Detroit nearly won that game, but in the end, Matt Stafford was sacked five times, and the San Francisco defense was largely able to pin its ears back and just get after the passer.
Without Best there to help him in the backfield, Smith only has Keiland Williams, Stefan Logan, and Joique Bell behind him. Needless to say, against this ferocious defense, Smith will need to be able to carry the ball at least a dozen times to take some of that pressure off of his quarterback. If not, just like last year, it will be San Francisco, a 6.5-point favorite in Week2 , that is celebrating at the end of the game against the Lions.