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Seahawks Opponent Q&A: Get To Know the Detroit Lions

Senior writer and insider Tim Twentyman DetroitLions.com provides a closer look at Seattle’s Wild Card opponent.

Senior writer and insider Tim Twentyman DetroitLions.com provides a closer look at Seattle's Wild Card opponent:

1. The Lions head into Seattle losers of three-straight, with two of those three losses coming on the road. What has to change for them on Saturday?

Twentyman:There are four things that jump out to me right away:

-- Contain Russell Wilson from extending/making plays with his legs. The Lions have to do a better job this week than they did against Aaron Rodgers last week and Dak Prescott the week before.

-- Seattle ranks third in the NFL with 42 sacks this season. Detroit has to find a way to keep that pass rush at bay at least a little bit by finding some sort of running game early on.

-- Take advantage of early opportunities. The Lions can't miss the same plays they missed early on last week, like the deep ball to Golden Tate when he got behind the Packers defense, or the missed Matt Prater field goal in the first quarter.

-- Detroit has to be better in the third quarter. For whatever reason, those 15 minutes haven't been kind to the Lions. Detroit's been outscored 21-3 in the third quarter during their current losing streak, and 85-53 on the year.

2. Jim Caldwell has been in a similar situation when Baltimore lost four of their last five at the end of the regular season in their 2012 Super Bowl season. How can he duplicate that run in Detroit?

Twentyman: If you look back at that run Baltimore had in 2012, quarterback Joe Flacco had the run of his life. He threw for 1,140 yards with 11 touchdowns and no interceptions for a passer rating of 117.2. That run earned him a pretty nice pay day, too.

Matthew Stafford doesn't have to play that well, but he has to play better than he has the last month since injuring the right middle finger on his throwing hand. He was an MVP candidate heading into that Chicago game Week 14, but after the injury early in that game, he's thrown just three touchdowns and five interceptions for a passer rating of 74.1.

To be fair, he's played better teams with better defenses over that stretch, but even though he says the finger isn't affecting him much at all, the numbers don't support that claim.

The Lions need Stafford to play at a really high level if Detroit has any chance of getting by Seattle and that terrific defensive unit.

3. How have the Lions fared in short weeks on the West Coast?

Twentyman:The Lions have actually been lucky in that they haven't had to travel out west on a short week in any of the three years Jim Caldwell's been the head coach.

They played San Diego Week 1 last year, but had plenty of time to prepare for that 33-28 loss.

The only other time they've played on the west coast in Caldwell's tenure was last year, when they traveled to CenturyLink to play the Seahawks on Monday Night Football Week 4. That was coming off a Sunday night game the week before, so again, plenty of time to prepare.

As Seattle fans know well, that was a good game that was decided late in somewhat controversial fashion. So, the Lions know they can travel on the road to Seattle and give the Seahawks a game, which is what's expected this time around, too.

4. Do you think Zach Zenner will handle most of the duties in the backfield again this week? Or will Dwayne Washington and Joique Bell sneak in some snaps?

Twentyman: Expect Zenner to carry the load. Lions offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter used the words "reliable" and "consistent" when talking about Zenner on Wednesday, and those are exactly the traits coordinators are looking for from players in the playoffs.

Zenner carried the ball 20 times last week and played 64 snaps at running back. No other Detroit back took a single rep on offense. Zenner finished with 110 total yards (69 rushing, 41 receiving) against the Packers. That after rushing for 63 yards in the first half against Dallas the week prior.

Zenner isn't flashy. He's not going to give you the home run. But he's always in the right spot, he always gains positive yards and he can catch the ball out of the backfield. That fits this Lions offense, and is exactly what they need against Seattle's seventh-ranked run defense.

5. Finally, the Lions could be without right tackle Riley Reiff (hip) on Saturday. If he can't play, who likely replaces him in the lineup with Corey Robinson now on IR?

Twentyman: Next up would be Cornelius Lucas, the third-year lineman out of Kansas State. He's been the fourth tackle all year behind Taylor Decker, Reiff and Robinson.

But the good thing for the Lions is that Lucas has played plenty of football. He played in 15 games in 2014 (three starts), 15 games in 2015 (three starts) and has been active for five games this season. It's not an ideal situation starting your fourth tackle against the likes of Cliff Avril and Co., but if it comes down to that, Lucas has 35 games and six starts under his belt.

Get to know the faces of the Detroit Lions' offensive and defensive units heading into the team's Wild Card playoff matchup with the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field.

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