Lions at Vikings: 5 players who are the key to victory

SANTA CLARA, CA - SEPTEMBER 16: Kenny Golladay #19 of the Detroit Lions dives in for a touchdown against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium on September 16, 2018 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CA - SEPTEMBER 16: Kenny Golladay #19 of the Detroit Lions dives in for a touchdown against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium on September 16, 2018 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /

The Detroit Lions will be heading to the frozen tundra to face their division foe the Minnesota Vikings. Here are five Lions who might be keys to victory.

The Detroit Lions will be facing the Minnesota Vikings for their second division game of the year. They managed to beat the Green Bay Packers to go up 1-0 against NFC North opponents so far this year.

This time around Detroit will have their hands full against a powerful offense and a stout defense in Minnesota. Here are five key players who will need to show up against the Vikings to help keep the Lions’ divisional record perfect.

Damon Harrison, Defensive Tackle

If anything showed last week after the Seahawks ran for 176 yards, the Lions need Damon “Snacks” Harrison in the middle clogging up the lanes. When Harrison was not in the game, the Seattle Seahawks ran for 84 yards on 15 attempts for nearly six yards a carry.

When Snacks was in the game, Detroit only allowed 83 yards on 26 attempts to a tune of three yards a carry. This all excludes the yards from the punter.

The Vikings are one of the worst rushing teams in the league averaging just 87 yards on the ground per contest. With the help from Snacks, the Lions can shut down Minnesota’s rushing attack and put their focus into stopping their strong passing game.

Nevin Lawson, Cornerback

Seahawks made it a purpose to not throw it near cornerback Darius Slay, but to exploit the others playing opposite of him. One of them being corner Nevin Lawson. While picking on Lawson, Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson was able to earn a perfect passer rating.

Lawson has earned the reputation as a guy who comes close, but no cigar. He seems to be in the position to make the play but comes up empty.

In order for the Lions to stay in this game, they will have to find a way to shut down the Vikings receiving corps. It’ll be a tough task for Lawson, but if he steps up, the Lions could win this game.

Kenny Golladay, Wide Receiver

With the trade of wideout Golden Tate, second-year receiver Kenny Golladay should be a strong beneficiary to receive those targets from quarterback Matthew Stafford. Golladay has been quiet the last two games. Especially against Seattle where he had only one catch for 12 yards.

Golladay has shown he can handle the No. 1 receiver role especially early in the season making tough catches look routine. With Tate heading to the Philadelphia Eagles, the Lions are showing they have the confidence in the former third rounder to step up big.

The Vikings are allowing close to 245 passing yards per game which is middle of the pack in the league. If Golladay can take advantage of the increase in targets, the sophomore receiver could have a big game.

Kerryon Johnson, Running Back

Even though the Seahawks were allowing 120 rushing yards per game before facing Detroit, the Lions weren’t able to capitalize on that weakness with running back Kerryon Johnson. Johnson only managed 22 yards on eight carries, but managed six catches for 69 yards; so not a terrible day for the rookie.

The Lions are going to need to control the tempo in this game to keep the strong Viking offense on the bench and that road leads through Johnson. Unfortunately, the Vikings pose one of the stronger rushing defenses in the league allowing only 92 yards on the ground.

What the Lions need is a repeat of the Miami Dolphins game in Week Seven where they were able to run the ball effectively. As long as they are able to do that, Detroit could control the tempo of this game.

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The Offensive Line

I know I am cheating here by picking the entire offensive line, but they need to bring their “A” game against the Vikings. In their last game against the Seahawks, the offensive line didn’t protect Stafford allowing him to get sacked three times and gave no running room for the running backs.

The Vikings defensive line, with the likes of defensive ends Danielle Hunter and Everson Griffen plus defensive tackles Linval Joseph and Sheldon Richardson, causes fits to offenses on a weekly basis; so it won’t get any easier for them this week. With the potential injuries to starting left tackle Taylor Decker and right guard T.J. Lang, the Lions might be rolling with a less than 100 percent line this week.

If Decker and Lang are unable to go, the Lions will roll with offensive tackles Kenny Wiggins and rookie Tyrell Crosby who saw his first action last week. That could spell trouble for the offense. The offensive line needs to have a strong rebound game in order for the Lions to sing a different tune this weekend.