The Detroit Lions host the 4-2 Minnesota Vikings this week. The Lion Lowdown writers offer their predictions for this week’s game.
Bruce Walker (@smoke25):
Just when we thought that an opening-season tie would leave the worst taste in our mouth, Detroit Lions fans were force-fed the fourth quarter of last week’s Monday Night Football game at Lambeau Field. There we learned what truly nasty tastes like.
Plenty has been said about the officiating of the Packer game. There’s no need to go into that anymore. It does make for a valuable reference point for this week’s game, though.
As I’ve mentioned before on social media, I’m firmly in the camp that states that the team must play good enough football so that the refs have no say. As frustrated as fans were about botched calls by the officiating crew, remember this: If the Lions make a few plays that they are capable of making, it’s not an issue, and Green Bay Packer players are telling reporters that they need to make more plays and fewer mistakes.
For instance, the Lions had the ball with third and two yards to go with 12:26 to go in the fourth quarter. Lions running back Kerryon Johnson caught a short pass to the right from quarterback Matthew Stafford, took about three steps, then lost control of the football while switching it to his other hand. Later he would say that he was preparing to stiff-arm the defensive lineman that was covering him. The ball bounced harmlessly out of bounds and the play on the field was called a first down for Detroit. Green Bay challenged the call. Upon further review the refs determined that it was an incomplete pass. The result? Instead of a first down near the Packer 30, the Lions were forced to settle for another field goal.
Was the correct call a catch and fumble by Johnson that gave the Lions a first down or was it really an incomplete pass that resulted in a fourth down for Detroit? Actually, a better way to put it would be:
Question: Did the refs make the correct call?
Answer: Who cares? It doesn’t matter.
Now, don’t get too excited. Keep this in mind: If Johnson simply hangs on to that ball, the refs are never involved. It’s a first down. Period. The Lions drive continues from the Packer’s 30.
Another quick example: If T.J. Hockenson catches that ball in the end zone, the Lions score a touchdown instead of a field goal. The closer that you look, the longer this list gets.
That is what the Lions need to do. Take care of the plays that are in their control. One thing that the Lions have shown this year is resiliency and the ability to correct mistakes from week to week, so I expect to see improvement in this area.
The Lions have also shown that they are capable of dancing toe to toe with anyone. They now must learn to put teams away, especially in the fourth quarter, where they have had a lead in every single game this season thus far. They have just relinquished that lead too often.
Anyway, the best antidote for last week’s bitter medicine is a Sunday afternoon football game against the 4-2 division-rival Minnesota Vikings.
The thing that concerns me the most about the Minnesota Vikings coming to town is that they sacked Matthew Stafford ten times in the first meeting last year. The Lions then had seven weeks to come up with a plan to protect him. The result? The Vikings sacked Stafford seven times in the second game. Both times included hard hits that made it difficult for Stafford to play. As much of an iron man as Stafford is, every sack puts him at risk of an injury that can derail the Lions season, so protecting him is of critical importance.
Both the Lions and Vikings are averaging about the same number of offensive yards per game. The Vikings have the edge in rushing and the Lions in passing. They’re also very close in points scored per game, however, Minnesota is allowing far fewer yards and points per game on defense than Detroit.
The Vikings are a well-coached and talented team, especially on defense. Detroit will have it’s hands full, especially in protecting it’s star quarterback.
The Lions managed only nine points in each of their match-ups with Minnesota last year. They will fare better the go-round. Minnesota will struggle to score in Ford Field as the Lions take care of business.
Detroit Lions 24 — Minnesota Viking 16
James Gullett (@gullett_james:
Week seven is here and the Lions are finally coming back to Ford Field. Coming off of back-to-back dreadfully officiated games, will this be another one?
This game is worth more than just a regular division game in my eyes with the Patrick Maholmes injuries this week. The Vikings and Packers are the Chiefs next two opponents and what would have likely been two losses for the Lions division rivals, they are now looking like easy wins. Therefore, these head to head matchups are even more valuable.
The Lions are a pretty banged-up team even after the recent bye week. However, there are guys who are game-time decisions and that means even if they do play, they won’t be 100%. The Vikings, I believe, are not as good of a team as the Lions if the Lions are fully healthy, but this seems like an overall bad matchup for the Lions.
The Vikings have an elite run game and the Lions have been somewhere between bad and horrible at stopping the run this year. After the league’s best-run defender for the last 5 years has almost completely disappeared, the Packers had over 170 rushing yards on Monday night and their running backs aren’t even that good. Now, the Lions will face one of the leagues best RBs this year, and on top of that, they can not stack the box against bthe run because then you leave one on one matchups on the outside for the Vikings two strong WRs. The Lions secondary may be the best in the NFL right now, but will likely be down S Quandre Diggs. Tavon Wilson has filled in nicely whenever needed and does come with starter experience.
Looking at the Vikings defense, DE Danielle Hunter feasted on Wagner last year for a four sack game. A performance that helped set a franchise record for the Vikings in team sacks in a single game. However, the Lions are the better overall roster in my mind, so even though the matchup is a difficult one, I do believe the Lions will come away with a close win.
Detroit Lions 24 — Minnesota Vikings 23
Logan Lamorandier (@LLamorandier):
I’ll make this quick. Unfortunately, I don’t feel this is a good match-up for the Lions. They have struggled mightily against the run and the Vikings offense is one of the best at doing it. Vikings RB Dalvin Cook is having himself quite the year so far.
The only way the Lions win is if they force the game onto Kirk Cousins shoulders. Yes, the Vikings duo at receiver is a good one, but the Lions corners are also playing at an elite level.
On offense, the Lions have historically struggled against Mike Zimmer defenses. With the anemic rushing attack, I don’t see the Lions lighting up the scoreboard. Pair that with the Vikings run game controlling the clock, I reluctantly have to go with a close one in favor the Vikings.
Detroit Lions 20 — Minnesota Vikings 24Follow here: