Week 7: 5 Lions to Watch against the Vikings

It’s the Detroit Lions versus the Minnesota Vikings. If Detroit wants to beat a tough division rival, they will need good games from the following:

1. RT Rick Wagner

Wagner has struggled against the Vikings in the past and I don’t believe Sunday will be any different. Last year, he gave up 3.5 sacks to Vikings DE Danielle Hunter. Wagner will need to not only keep Stafford upright but also open holes in the run game. The Lions are clearly committed to the run game and it is not going anywhere — some of that is on Johnson, however, the bulk of the blame is on the O-line.

2. LT Taylor Decker

Decker also needs to step up. He has not had a bad season but he has not had a good one either. Decker never seems be on the side or the guy they aim for to get a key block in the run game.

Decker is nearing the end of his contract and has not shown he’s worthy of an extension. He has not done a bad job, but he does not stand out like he did his rookie year. Decker is comparable to OG Larry Warford to me — borderline Pro Bowler who peaked as a rookie. The Lions let Warford walk, although admittedly LT and RG aren’t the same positions.

3. TE T.J. Hockenson

Hockenson is my guy, I oozed confidence in the pick from day one. However, he has been dropping balls at an Eric Ebron pace in the red zone and that does not fly here.

By my count, Hockenson has three dropped touchdowns in five games this year. His blocking has been fine but not game-changing the way he was projected. I don’t want to be too hard on the guy as tight ends are notorious for slow starts in the NFL. However, when you wow us in week one and then don’t even show 20% of that in the next four games, the fans have to be a little concerned. With all that being said, he will be fine, but he needs to take it up a notch.

4. S Tavon Wilson

Wilson has stepped into the Diggs role at safety without missing a beat. Wilson does not lay the boom on hits like Diggs does, but dare I say Wilson may be better than Diggs in coverage? Diggs is of course missed in the Lions secondary, but Wilson is a luxury to have and will allow Diggs the time he needs to properly heal and not be rushed back.

5. DT A’Shawn Robinson

Robinson has been the Lions best defensive lineman this year and look for that to continue on Sunday. His brother in arms, Da’Shawn Hand, may be back as well and that should take some of the pressure to perform away from Robinson, as well as some double teams. Robinson is in the top-10 for highest percentage of snaps double teamed for all defensive lineman in the NFL. Other teams are taking notice of Robinson too.

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