When the Lions come on the field, they will be looking to reverse a three game losing streak head to head against the Vikings. With Minnesota climbing the standings and the NFC North taking on a tough look, the Lions will be challenged in a big way by this contest.
What is there to know about the Vikings so far in 2019? Here’s a closer look.
Opposing Player To Watch: Stefon Diggs
Does Diggs want a trade away from the Vikings or does he want to stay in Minnesota? Recent weeks have produced some mixed opinions on this from both the court of public opinion and the receiver himself, but it’s fairly clear after a 3 touchdown performance last week that Diggs is still comfortable catching passes from Kirk Cousins on the field. Entering into this game, that is notable against a Detroit secondary which has been sticky, but who has also missed on some of the bigger pass catching targets they could have faced in Alshon Jeffery, Tyreek Hill and Davante Adams. The challenge is stiff this weekend in terms of Diggs, so the team will need to measure up and limit his impact on the game.
Key Personnel Group: Defensive Line
Last season, the Lions couldn’t protect Matthew Stafford in the face of the Minnesota front seven. That group dominated the two games in the series to the tune of 11.5 sacks. Simply put, that’s not good enough to win big games. The Vikings have some nasty dudes who can pressure the pocket and the Lions didn’t exactly help Stafford out on Monday Night Football this week in Green Bay. That could spell big trouble for this matchup, so Detroit’s offensive line will be facing the pressure to step up and have a much better day than they did head to head in 2018.
Can They Defend: Yes
A Mike Zimmer coached team is always going to be nasty up front and on the back end and this group is no exception. At this point of the season, the Vikings are fifth in total defense, which includes seventh against the pass and ninth against the run. They get turnovers, including 6 interceptions and 4 fumble recoveries. This group is as good as they have been under Zimmer and this group is going to be relentless as they always are, especially against the Lions.
Biggest Name Missing: Riley Reiff
The former Lions tackle was hobbled in Minnesota’s win over the Eagles on Sunday with an ankle injury, and if he can’t play against the Lions this week, it would leave his team in a tough spot. Guard Josh Kline missed the game with injury as well, so the Vikings are a little banged up when it comes to their offensive line. That could play to Detroit’s advantage when it comes to trying to fluster Cousins and create some havoc of their own on defense up front.
Headset Heads Up
It will be a brutal defensive battle between the two teams when the Lions and Vikings face off given the defensive nature of both head coaches, but it’s fair to remember that the Lions were outscored 51-18 last year, meaning the Lions will have to find a way to stop a Vikings’ offense which has been much maligned in recent weeks. That will put pressure on Matt Patricia and Darrell Bevell to find ways to do things they simply couldn’t against Zimmer head to head last season.