WHEN THE PATRIOTS HAVE THE BALL
Great battle for the Patriots first offense, especially to test themselves against the very talented Lions’ front anchored by Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley. Can New England have their way up front in the running game and get themselves in second-and-reasonable? And if they can’t, who will be the chunk guy on second down? It’s usually the slot guy but Danny Amendola may not play after being down Monday and Tuesday with what I’m told is a minor, short-term ding. Julian Edelman figures to get some reps at the slot, but the versatility of the Patriots offense could see Josh McDaniels cook up something to test some of the young guys in the slot, particularly Josh Boyce or even Shane Vereen. Aaron Dobson was quiet last week. The Lions secondary is not daunting. We’ll see if he gets some looks this week. Stevan Ridley has the No. 1 spot locked down, it seems, but LeGarrette Blount has shown enough in his game and practice reps to warrant a look on first and second down as well. Also curious to see the deployment of Tim Tebow. If he gets reps early running out of the full-house backfield, you’ll know they envision him as being a viable part of the club. Mop-up, fourth-quarter reps would signal trouble for Tim.