Los Angeles Rams vs. Detroit Lions Observations: 5 Key Takeaways From Wild Card Showdown

For the first time since the 1991-1992 season, the Detroit Lions won a playoff game. Here are five key observations from their Wild Card bout against the Rams.

The Detroit Lions hadn’t hosted a playoff game since 1994, and the fans were ready to show up and support their home team against the Los Angeles Rams with an electric environment. What stood out in an incredibly entertaining matchup that was a fight right up until the finish, and what does it mean for both of these teams moving forward?

Los Angeles Rams vs. Detroit Lions Instant Observations

The City of Detroit Has Chosen Its QB

When the Lions selected University of Tennessee QB Hendon Hooker with the No. 68 overall pick of the 2023 NFL Draft, questions arose about whether or not Jared Goff was the long-term option for the QB position in Detroit.

Goff had been a solid QB in prior seasons for the Lions, but he’d proven to have limitations to his game. The same limitations that forced the Rams to ship him away as part of a package deal to get Matthew Stafford.

However, Goff has been spectacular this season in Detroit — throwing for over 4,500 yards and 30 TDs to just 12 interceptions — and he put on a clinic on Sunday night against his former team. However, the biggest tell that he will be the QB for the Lions for the foreseeable future was the response of the Detroit faithful.

As chants of “Jared Goff” resounded throughout Ford Field on numerous occasions, Detroit showed that it’s behind the veteran QB and believe they can win with him leading the charge. Based on what Goff did on the field, it’s hard to argue against that this point.

Ben Johnson Rises Up Head Coaching Candidates List

Heading into the head coaching cycle last offseason, many had Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson as one of the top candidates to land a spot leading an NFL franchise. He ultimately chose to stay, and he’s been a big reason the Lions were able to bring a home playoff game to the city of Detroit this year.

As we now are in the midst of NFL teams requesting interviews for vacant head coaching positions, Johnson’s name is consistently mentioned as a leading candidate to land one of the most coveted positions.

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The performance by the Lions offense in the Wild Card Round is certainly not going to move the consensus off of that opinion, as Goff and Johnson put together an incredibly clean performance against the Rams.

NFL teams that are looking to improve their explosiveness on offense should have Johnson at the top of their list.

Matthew Stafford Is Still a Top-Tier NFL QB

The list of teams that suffered from poor QB play this season in the NFL is lengthy. However, the Rams can count themselves among the blessed few that have a top-tier option at football’s most important position.

After a down year in 2022 that saw Stafford total just nine games played and only 10 touchdowns to eight interceptions, there were questions about whether or not Stafford could recapture the level of play that helped propel the Rams to a Super Bowl win back in 2021.

Time and time again on Sunday, Stafford’s elite ability to manipulate arm angles and layer throws in over the defense showed up and helped move the chains for the Rams’ offense. If there were any questions about his play dropping off as he nears the latter stage of his career, he put those to rest in this one.

The Lions Have a Strong Home Field Advantage

With the massive upset from the Green Bay Packers over the Dallas Cowboys, the Lions are now scheduled to have a home game next week against the winner of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Philadelphia Eagles showdown on Monday.

With the atmosphere in Detroit being beyond electric in the Wild Card Round, the opposing team is going to have to prepare all week long for one of the loudest environments they’ve ever walked into for the second round of the playoffs.

A Near Miss Will Haunt the Rams All Offseason

Late in the first quarter, Stafford narrowly missed Cooper Kupp on an end-zone shot that would’ve resulted in the Rams walking away with seven points instead of settling for a field goal.

Ultimately, these points proved invaluable as the Rams fell to the Lions, 24-23. All offseason, the Rams will look back on that one play and wonder what could have been as Detroit moves on to the next round.

Want to predict the results of the 2023 NFL postseason with our FREE NFL Playoff Predictor? How about looking into in-depth breakdowns of team depth charts or the NFL playoff schedule? Pro Football Network has you covered with all that and more!

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