The Detroit Lions will be looking to make a statement against a division opponent on Sunday to avenge their heartbreaking loss last week.
No matter what is said, the Detroit Lions were able to stand toe to toe with the former NFC champions, the Atlanta Falcons. The scoreboard might not have been favorable to Detroit once the clock ran out, but the rest of the league took notice of how they played. Respect has been given to the team by national media, and now it’s time for the Lions to turn their attention to the Vikings.
The Vikings have also had a favorable opening to their schedule, going 2-1 with wins against the New Orleans Saints and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Their only loss coming at the hands of the Pittsburgh Steelers who defeated them by 17 points.
Minnesota does have a fairly stout defense, able to disrupt the pass and put pressure on opposing quarterbacks. On offense, their new jewel in the running game, rookie running back Dalvin Cook, has been able to gain nearly 100 yards from scrimmage during each of their first three games. They do have weaknesses though, namely their quarterback situation is getting dire.
Quarterbacks Sam Bradford and Teddy Bridgewater are both sidelined with injuries, meaning Case Keenum is starting with Kyle Sloter as the backup. Keenum was able to have a great game against an injured Tampa Bay defense, but those numbers won’t hold up against a better than good Lions defense.
It will be very important for middle linebacker Jarrad Davis to be in the game Sunday, as linebacker Tahir Whitehead had difficulties running the defense against the Falcons. Together with Davis they may be able to have a repeat of their performance against Cardinal running back David Johnson, possibly holding Cook to his fewest yards yet as a professional.
During the Falcons game, the Lions were unable to hold running back Devonta Freeman from having a big game. If they can hold Cook, they will force Keenum to hold the ball allowing the Lions defensive line to penetrate and get to the quarterback. Keenum is not known for being good under pressure and this will give the team a clear advantage.
The game is set in Minnesota at U.S. Bank Stadium, which could result in a slight advantage for the Vikings having home field crowds to try and disrupt the Lions offense with noise. The team hasn’t had to deal with much of this yet this year, their only away game thus far being at MetLife Stadium in front of a defeated Giants fan base. Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford has been controlling the offense more and more via audibles, which could be disrupted by an active crowd.
This should be a good match to decide the leader of the division, and so far this season there are no clearly unbeatable teams. More so than any NFL season, any team has a chance to win on any given Sunday. Look for a competitive game between two division rivals with their eyes set on the postseason.