The Vikings are home which makes this game a tough one for the Lions. Teddy Bridgewater will likely start for the Vikings this week. He is coming off of an impressive game against the Atlanta Falcons. The rest of his team is coming off of an embarrassing blow out loss to the Packers. The Lions are coming off a game they should have won against the Bills and are a little deflated. Their coach (and likely general manager) solved for their kicking woes by releasing their weak link and hiring a Pro Bowl caliber kicker. Will it help? We hope so.
- Detroit Lions Offensive Line vs. Minnesota Vikings Defensive Line – This is a battle that most Lions fans are not thrilled about. The Lions offensive line is bad this year. Stafford has been sacked more this year so far than in all of last season. The Vikings defensive line is decent, combining for 6 sacks on the season. Edge Vikings
- Detroit Lions Tight Ends vs. Minnesota Vikings Linebackers – The Lions’ tight ends have struggled this season. Last week Eric Ebron was wide open for a deep gain, if not a score, and Stafford did not throw it. Pettigrew has made the most of his catches, but has been asked to primarily block. With Joseph Fauria‘s injury, this group has not gotten the production fans expect. Add to that the fact that the Vikings linebackers are not too bad. Rookie Anthony Barr was a high first round pick and Chad Greenway has been good for years. Edge Vikings
- Detroit Lions Wide Receivers vs. Minnesota Vikings Secondary – This is a big question mark for me this week. Calvin Johnson may not play. Even if he does, he has not been productive since his ankle injury. Golden Tate has been excellent. Unfortunately, outside of Tate the Lions receivers have not proven anything. Jeremy Ross has had flashes of success. Corey Fuller has shown potential. Ryan Broyles, when he sees the field, makes the most of his catches. The Viking secondary is weak as shown by the domination the Packers had over the Vikings. Harrison Smith, the Vikings best defensive back, may not play due to injury. If he’s out, the edge goes to the Lions. If he plays, its a wash. I’m going to assume that he sits this week. Edge Lions
- Detroit Lions Running Backs vs. Minnesota Vikings Run Defense – I do not know how to call this one either. The Vikings have let an average of 121.8 rush yards per game. The Lions can’t seem to run the ball. Add to that the fact that Reggie Bush may not play, and Joique Bell is returning from a concussion (possibly). George Winn played well last week against the stingy Bills run defense, so there is that. Given a healthy Bell and Winn, I think the Lions can get to 100 yards this week. Edge Lions
- Detroit Lions Quarterbacks vs. Minnesota Vikings Pass Defense – Minnesota’s pass defense is better than it looks. They have let an average of 225.6 passing yards per game which is better than Buffalo. Without having to double team Calvin Johnson, this match up likely gets easier for the Vikings. I like Golden Tate to move the chains a bit. If the run game gets going, the pass game will open up. This pick is really a house of cards pick. Assuming the run game happens, Edge Lions
- Detroit Lions Defensive Line vs. Minnesota Vikings Offensive Line – The Vikings offensive line is not bad. Unfortunately for them, the Detroit defensive line is great this season. They stuff the run well and get consistent pressure on the quarterback. While the sacks may not be there, they are difficult to block. Edge Lions
- Detroit Lions Linebackers vs. Minnesota Vikings Tight Ends – Kyle Rudolph has not had a very good season for the Vikings. With a rookie quarterback, regardless of how well he plays, the tight end usually gets the bulk of the receptions. That is not the case here. Add to that the stingy Lions pass defense which will likely be in nickel coverage all day, and DeAndre Levy is excellent in coverage. Edge Lions
- Detroit Lions Secondary vs. Minnesota Vikings Wide Receivers – What a difference a year makes. Last year, this would have been the Vikings strength and key to victory given the weak pass defense they had last year. This year, Teryl Austin has the defense playing at the top of the NFL, despite the glaring “weaknesses” that were pointed out by all of the media. The Viking receivers have been productive though as well. Cordarrelle Patterson and Greg Jennings have shown the ability to make plays, but they have not been consistent. Receiver Jarius Wright has been productive as well. Can they beat the stingy Lions pass defense? Its hard for me to say yes, given what we’ve seen from Detroit all season. Edge Lions
- Detroit Lions Run Defense vs. Minnesota Vikings Running Backs – The Lions are allowing 74.4 yards per game rushing, which is 3rd in the NFL. Last year they successfully contained Adrian Peterson. This year they don’t have to worry about Peterson. The dominance against the run continues. Edge Lions
- Detroit Lions Pass Defense vs. Minnesota Vikings Quarterbacks – I wanted to give this to the Lions given that they face a rookie quarterback with a top ranked defense. I cant overlook what Cam Newton did to them with his ability to move around the pocket avoiding the rush. While Bridgewater is no Newton, he could make things ugly if he can avoid sacks and find open receivers. I trust the Lions defense, but I cant ignore history. Edge Vikings
- I am going to look at this differently this week. The Lions have been average with the return game, and they have been good at return coverage. The Vikings have a good return team, but it may not matter. Sam Martin has been great with punts,and his kick off ability has left few returns. He has allowed some returns though. This week we do not know if Martin is handling the kickoffs. Last week, the Lions lost due to special teams. It was the inability to kick field goals. They have fired Alex Henery and hired Matt Prater. Prater was a pro bowl kicker last year in Denver. He has Super Bowl experience. Prater is a huge upgrade for the Lions at kicker and he may take over the kick off duties as well. I cant help but think that Prater makes the difference in a win or a loss this week, regardless of how lopsided these one on one comparisons look. Edge Lions
Lions 8 Vikings 3
This game is a tough call. The numbers say Detroit wins in a land slide. Common sense says Detroit may lose. It will all come down to which team executes on all three facets of the game (offense, defense, and special teams). In both losses, Detroit battled poor kicking which could have played into the psyche of the players and definitely did in the coaches. If Prater kicks for the Lions like he did for the Broncos, the players and coaches will regain confidence and play football again.
Detroit Lions 20 Minnesota Vikings 17