Royal Oak Tribune
Three keys to victory for the Lions over Vikings
The Minnesota Vikings are just a two-win team (2- 5), yet could spell trouble for the Lions in their Week 9 matchup.
The Vikings are coming off a surprising 28-22 victory over the Green Bay Packers, and the Lions could be without their franchise passer Matthew Stafford because of him being placed on the NFL’s reserve/COVID-19 list Wednesday.
If the Lions want to avoid dropping a second consecutive game and falling further out of the NFC playoff race, here are the three things they must do Sunday.
1. Help Griffen succeed
The Lions’ new defensive end Everson Griffen needs to have a big day against his former team.
Although it’s unknown what specific role he’ll have at this point, according to Detroit defensive coordinator Cory Undlin, there’s no doubt the expectations for him to perform at a high level have increased, as a result of Trey Flowers having been placed on injured reserve earlier this week.
Griffen played for 10 seasons in Minnesota, and you know he’d like to prove to his former squad that he still can be productive.
The best way he can prove he has something left in the tank is by wreaking havoc on Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins all throughout Sunday’s contest.
The verdict is still out on whether or not Griffen can have
such an impact with the Lions. But, if he does, he gives Detroit a much better chance to consistently win games, starting with its Week 9 matchup in Minnesota.
Get ground game going
Detroit’s ground game was horrid in the Week 8 contest with the Indianapolis Colts. The Lions’ top two backs Adrian Peterson and D’Andre Swift combined for eight yards on 11 carries.
Going into this Week 9 tilt, the Vikings’ defense ranks 19th in rushing yards allowed (871) and 11th in rushing yards per attempt permitted (4.2).
The Colts, meanwhile, rank second in both of the above categories, after limiting Detroit to 29 total yards on 13 carries a week ago.
The Lions stand a better shot of establishing a ground attack this weekend in Minnesota, and need to get it going early, especially if Stafford is unable to suit up due to his presence on the reserve/COVID-19 list.
Limit Dalvin Cook
Along with establishing their own ground game, the Lions must also limit the productivity of Vikings star running back Dalvin Cook.
Easier said than done. The fourth-year back ran for 163 yards and three touchdowns, and captured another 63 yards and a score as a pass-catcher a week ago in Minnesota’s 2822 upset win over the Green Bay Packers.
It was Cook’s third time this season accumulating 100-plus yards on the ground. He also did so in Week 3 against the Tennessee Titans (181) and in Week 4 against the Houston Texans (130). For the season, he’s produced 652 yards, a league-leading 10 rushing TDs and a career-best 5.3 yards per attempt.
He surely hasn’t been a reason for the Vikings’ struggles in 2020.
There’s no way the Lions are going to stop him Sunday, especially with how poorly their run defense has performed up to this point in the campaign (i.e. ranked 31st in rushing TDs allowed with 11).
However, they must find a way to contain him. If they don’t, Cook will be in store for yet another big week, and could be the main reason for why Detroit drops its divisional contest with Minnesota this weekend.