Lions vs. Chiefs: Time to go long

The Detroit News

The Detroit News breaks down Sunday's Lions-Chiefs game at Wembley Stadium (9:30 a.m. Fox/97.1).

Chiefs to watch

Charcandrick West, RB: With Jamaal Charles sidelined, West is the starting running back. He ran for a career-best 110 yards and his first TD in last week’s victory over Pittsburgh.

Alex Smith, QB: He can scramble, but he has trouble getting his team into the end zone. He did not throw a TD to a wide receiver last season. The Chiefs rank 27th in the NFL, scoring a TD 41 percent of the time when they are in the red zone. The Lions rank seventh in that category with a 66 percent success rate in the red zone.

Justin Houston, LB: A superior pass rusher, he has four sacks through the first seven games. He had 22 sacks last season.


The new staff: Will the shakeup of assistants for the Lions make a difference? Offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi and line coaches Jeremiah Washburn and Terry Heffernan were fired Monday. QB coach Jim Bob Cooter is serving as offensive coordinator, TEs coach Ron Prince is handling offensive line duties and assistant special teams coach Devin Fitzsimmons is working with TEs.

The old players: QB Matthew Stafford reportedly has a good relationship with Jim Bob Cooter, who is expected to open the offense with longer throws. That sounds good, but can Ron Prince and Devin Fitzsimmons find a blocking scheme that will give Stafford some protection? And how about a running game to help Stafford? The Lions average a league-worst 68 yards rushing yards per game.

Confounding rookie: Rookie RB Ameer Abdullah is fifth in the NFL in all-purpose yards and second in kickoff return yards. He, however, has four fumbles.

Ready to rumble: With Zach Zenner out for the season and Ameer Abdullah struggling to hold on to the ball, Joique Bell gave the team a spark against the Vikings before an ankle injury. He practiced at full strength this week and should be ready to go.

Facts and figures

*The Lions are 1-5 against the Chiefs as the road team, though all six games were played at Arrowhead Stadium.

*This is the first game for the Chiefs in London.

*QB Matthew Stafford is expected to make his 85th regular-season start, passing Greg Landry for most by a quarterback in Lions history.

*QB Matthew Stafford and WR Calvin Johnson have connected for 50 TD receptions, one of five active duos to reach that milestone

*Chiefs WR Jeremy Maclin is expected to play after missing last week’s game with lingering effects of a concussion sustained two weeks ago against the Vikings.