Allen Park — Big game. Statement game. Showdown. Barometer. Measuring stick.
Pick a descriptor and the Lions players and coaches likely have heard it in relation to Sunday's matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs (3-0) at Ford Field. It’s a meeting of two undefeated teams, as the Lions have won two straight after opening the season with a tie against the Arizona Cardinals.
With the Green Bay Packers’ loss on Thursday, the Lions are alone in first place in the NFC North, so maybe that adds a little more juice to the matchup.
“None of that really matters,” Lions coach Matt Patricia said Friday. “We’re just trying to go play well this weekend — just go play the Chiefs.”
With reigning league MVP Patrick Mahomes directing the Chiefs’ offense, the Lions will have their hands full. But it’s a Week 4 tilt, so it doesn’t carry the same weight as a division game or one that will determine their playoff fate in the final weeks of the regular season.
It’s just too early in the season.
“I don’t know where anybody is going to be right now in September and where they’re going to be in December and where anybody is going to be in January. No one knows that right now,” Patricia said. “All we know right now is we have a really good football team coming into our house on Sunday, and we have to play well to go beat them.
“That’s just our focus. We don’t go to anything bigger or smaller than that.”
After getting a victory last week against the Philadelphia Eagles, the Lions opened some eyes around the league — and a win against the Chiefs will make more believers — but a loss won’t sully the whole season, either.
The Lions haven’t played any games against division rivals and while they’re in the midst of the most difficult part of their schedule, they’re trying to maintain an even keel with how they approach each game.
That means not labeling one game as a big game, which could in turn mean that other games aren’t as big. It’s a small detail, but it’s the approach they’re choosing to take.
“Consistency is key. That’s something we’re staking our identity in; we’re trying to remain constant and not get too high or too low,” linebacker Miles Killebrew said. “The key to that is preparing for everything, so that when we face them, we’re neither worried or overly excited.”
Patricia didn’t buy into the idea of statement games. Instead, he focused on the standard response to the “statement game” notion.
“Every week is important. There’s nothing more to that. Just our biggest game is this game because it’s our next game,” he said. “We’ll always just kind of try to keep it that perspective so that — we just want to go out and perform well. That’s the bottom line.”
Chiefs at Lions
Kickoff: 1 p.m. Sunday, Ford Field, Detroit
Records: Lions 2-0-1, Chiefs 3-0
Line: Chiefs by 6½