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Sideline to Sideline: Q&A with Detroit Lions senior writer Tim Twentyman

The Raiders are preparing for their third primetime game of the season, this time against the Detroit Lions under the bright lights of Monday Night Football.

Before the game gets underway, we caught up with Lions senior writer Tim Twentyman to get an insider's look at the opposing team.

Q: After the loss to the Ravens, how do you expect the Lions to respond this week?

Tim Twentyman: I'd be really surprised if Head Coach Dan Campbell didn't have this team ready to play on a national stage at home after the butt kicking they endured at the hands of the Baltimore Ravens last week, 38-6. The Lions went back to some technique and fundamentals basics this week and some harder practices after going a little lighter ahead the Ravens game.

This is a pretty prideful group of veteran players and coaches that got handed some humble pie last week and I'd be very surprised if Las Vegas didn't get Detroit's best effort at home Monday night.

Q: Sam LaPorta has been making a big impact in Detroit. What have you seen from the rookie tight end?

TT: LaPorta has totaled 35 receptions for 377 yards and three touchdowns through his first seven NFL games. His 35 catches are third most by a tight end in his first seven NFL games in league history. Those numbers get magnified a little bit when we consider how difficult it is making the jump from the college game to the pros at the tight end position. It's essentially learning three different positions along with all the protections and run fits. We don't see rookies light it up too often at the tight end position the way LaPorta has.

The coaches here have been pretty hard on LaPorta from Day 1 and have put a lot on his plate because they saw early on he could handle it. If he makes a mistake he makes it once and he's just as good a run blocker as he is a pass catcher. He's been a terrific second-round draft pick for the Lions.

Q: Who is a player (or players) you expect to make a different on Monday night?

TT: Lions rookie nickel cornerback Brian Branch has been terrific to start his career. He's one of the most instinctive rookies I've ever seen or been around. Here's a player that started at Alabama as a freshman and was so good from Day 1 stepping in Allen Park the coaching staff moved veteran defensive back and last year's interceptions leader, C.J. Gardner-Johnson, to safety so they could get Branch on the field. He's a terrific cover corner and tackler. He's got four tackles for loss, four passes defended and a pick-six on the season. He makes plays all over the field and the Raiders offense will have to keep tabs on where he is.

Q: What Raiders-Lions matchup are you most looking forward to?

TT: All football fans get a treat Monday night watching Pro Bowl right tackle Penei Sewell vs. Pro Bowl defensive end Maxx Crosby. Those are two of the best in the business at their respective position and we'll see a lot of them matching up against each other on Monday.

Crosby leads the NFL in quarterback pressures and is top 10 in sacks with 6.5. Campbell said this week he's the most disruptive defensive player the Lions have faced up to this point.

Sewell hasn't allowed a sack since Week 10 of last season. He hasn't allowed a single quarterback hit and just three pressures allowed all season. He's pound for pound Detroit's best player on the roster.

As the Silver and Black prepare for their Week 8 matchup with the Detroit Lions, take a look back at their past matchups through the years.

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