2014 Week 15 Preview Detroit Lions Versus Minnesota Vikings




The Lions are coming off two straight wins, one against Chicago and one against Tampa Bay.  They need two more for a shot at the playoffs and a home game against s struggling Minnesota team is just what the team needs.  Their offense has been better as of late, but Minnesota’s defense is much better than the previous two teams they have faced.  Still though, they beat Minnesota in Minneapolis without Calvin Johnson and Reggie Bush.  Now both are healthy and it is a home game.  Will the Lions win again?

 

OFFENSE

  • Detroit Lions Offensive Line vs. Minnesota Vikings Defensive Line – When these two teams played the first time, there were concerns about the offensive line.  Their health, consistency, and overall execution was poor.  They have recently been playing better and are at full health.  Unfortunately, they still let up 4 sacks last week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  While they are better, and the run game should be better as a result, they are still a point of weakness  Edge Vikings
  • Detroit Lions Tight Ends vs. Minnesota Vikings Linebackers – The tight end group continues to struggle.  While Eric Ebron is the target goring forward and has improved each week, he is still not at a level that is expected of a first round pick.  Brandon Pettigrew is a non-factor in the passing game and Joseph Fauria, who finally scored this past week, is done for the season with that bad ankle bugging him again.  To make matters worse for Detroit, Anthony Barr has gotten better for the Vikings.  Edge Vikings
  • Detroit Lions Wide Receivers vs. Minnesota Vikings Secondary – Detroit played well against the Vikings last time with only Golden Tate, Corey Fuller, and Jeremy Ross.  This time, Calvin Johnson is back healthy, and producing.  He is closing in on 1000 yards for the season after back to back 140+ yard games.  The receivers showed their dominance over Chicago and Tampa Bay, so I would expect a similar performance from them here, provided Stafford has time to throw it to them.  Edge Lions
  • Detroit Lions Running Backs vs. Minnesota Vikings Run Defense – Last time these two teams faced each other, Detroit rushed for 100 as a team.  They also were without Reggie Bush and Joique Bell was returning from a concussion.  This time around, while the Lions will probably run for 100 again, given how they’ve run lately, they still are not a threat on the ground.  Last time around I gave Detroit the edge given the possibility that they run for 100 yards, and they did.  This time around, I do not know if that is enough to give them the edge here.  While the run game will be extremely important for them, the passing game will tell the story here.  Given how the Vikings will need to defend against both Johnson and Tate, the run game has to be better than it was last time these two teams faced off  Edge Lions
  • Detroit Lions Quarterbacks vs. Minnesota Vikings Pass Defense – Minnesota’s pass defense is better than it looks.  Detroit was held in check last time these teams played, with Stafford getting a measly 185 yards passing and one touchdown against the Viking defense.  To his credit, he was still trying to figure out who his options were at receiver with Johnson out.  Tate was establishing himself and Fuller was still a question mark.  Now, Calvin Johnson returns and has shown in consecutive games that he needs to be accounted for.  Vikings coach Mike Zimmer will likely remember Tate as well from the last time these teams played.  I would be willing to bet that the Lions throw for 300 yards again this week as the Vikings struggle to find an answer for the Johnson / Tate duo.  The addition of Johnson will also likely lessen Stafford’s pressure this week.  Edge Lions

 

DEFENSE

  • Detroit Lions Defensive Line vs. Minnesota Vikings Offensive Line – Detroit “whooped” Minnesota’s offensive line last time these teams played.  That word was direct from coach Zimmer today.  The Lions totaled 8 sacks last time.  The Vikings have lost Phil Loadholt since then.  I expect that they will be better than before, allowing less than 8 sacks but not too much better.  Detroit likely will get to Teddy Bridgewater 3-4 times this week.   Edge Lions
  • Detroit Lions Linebackers vs. Minnesota Vikings Tight EndsDeAndre Levy was better in coverage last week.  He will have to face better tight ends then last week though as the Buccaneers top two tight ends were out last week.  The good news for the Lions linebackers though is that they have been getting better and better every week and this week they face a tight end by committee situation with the Vikings three tight ends each being involved but not being impact players.   Edge Lions
  • Detroit Lions Secondary vs. Minnesota Vikings Wide Receivers – While the Lions pass defense is not at the level it was at when these teams first met, the safeties are playing even better.  Both Glover Quin and James Ihedigbo had interceptions last week, and both have at least 4 on the season.  Darius Slay had a rough week last week covering Vincent Jackson, but fortunately for him, the Vikings receivers are not at his level.   Edge Lions
  • Detroit Lions Run Defense vs. Minnesota Vikings Running Backs – The Detroit run defense has gotten better and better every week.  The New England Patriots were the last team to run well against the Lions and they did not even get to 100 yards.  The last two teams could not get to 50 yards rushing against Detroit, making it unlikely that Minnesota does.  Especially when their top two running backs Adrian Peterson and Jerick McKinnon are both out.   Edge Lions
  • Detroit Lions Pass Defense vs. Minnesota Vikings Quarterbacks –  Detroit absolutely manhandled Bridgewater last time these teams played.  They sacked him 8 times, had constant pressure and recorded 3 interceptions.  For an offense that did not even get 200 yards total against the Lions last time, I have a hard time believing Bridgewater will be impressive enough here to warrant the Vikings getting the edge.  Edge Lions

 

SPECIAL TEAMS

  • Jeremy Ross has not proven himself to be a weapon this season.  Sam Martin and Matt Prater have played well lately, but neither of them make the Vikings special teams players look bad enough to warrant either team getting an edge here.  Edge None

 

TOTALS

Lions 8 Vikings 2

I know there is no chance the final score of the Lions game will be the same three weeks in a row.  It is just not likely.  That being said, my prediction is that the Vikings offense is better this time around than last time.  There is enough tape on the Lions defense now for them to find something to exploit.  The Lions offense is much better than it was as well.  With this being a home game, and with Detroit needing to win this game and next week’s game in order to get a playoff spot, I see them playing hard and taking care of business at home.

Detroit Lions 34 Minnesota Vikings 17


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