Vikings-Lions Preview: A Second Deep Dive Into Minnesota

Dalvin Cook

Getty Dalvin Cook scores against the Lions.

The Detroit Lions played the Minnesota Vikings a few months ago at home in a game which ended up being one of the more exciting shootouts of the season.

While the Lions were on the losing side of things, the game was fast paced enough to be one of the more exciting battles the team has had all season long. Now, Detroit gets yet another shot at the Vikings, who need victories to hang in the conversation for the NFL playoffs.

What happens in this matchup? Here’s a look at the Vikings goals for this weekend, and what the Lions have to do in order to combat them.

Opposing Player to Watch This Time: Dalvin Cook, RB.

Cook is dinged up coming into this game with a shoulder injury, but he had a big contest against the Lions last time around in October, running for 142 yards and 2 touchdowns. The Lions had no answer for Cook, and could not stop the running back in between the lines. Minnesota’s wide receivers played well, but the fact that Cook got going helped the entire offense out. Without an ability to stop anyone on the ground, the Lions can forget about controlling Kirk Cousins and a solid passing attack. It started with Cook the last time, and he made a huge impression on the team with a big afternoon. Another one of those could bury the Lions again.

Key Personnel Group This Time: Defensive Backfield

It was a perfect afternoon for the Vikings in a ton of ways, but on the defensive side of things, the team had little answer for Detroit’s wideouts. Marvin Jones scored 4 touchdowns on the day and Matthew Stafford nearly lifted the Lions to a huge comeback win even in spite of a poor defensive effort. Detroit had 352 passing yards on the day, which was more than Minnesota. This time around, Stafford is dinged up and unlikely to play. That means Minnesota’s backfield is facing the pressure to step up and play well against a rookie in David Blough. If Blough gets hot himself, that would be a tough look for a Vikings’ secondary which has taken a dive in recent weeks.

Biggest Key to Another Victory: Protection

The Vikings didn’t allow Cousins to be sacked the last game, and that was very notable considering the fact that the quarterback had a phenomenal game the last time the teams played. Detroit has not generated much quarterback pressure this season whatsoever, so it would be huge if they could in order to force Cousins into some mistakes that could change the game. If Cousins has time, he will be able to pick apart the Lions once more.

Headset Heads Up

Matt Patricia and Mike Zimmer are known for defense, but there wasn’t much of that played at all when these teams met at Ford Field in October. 72 points, 937 yards of offense and 56 first downs later, it was clear that nobody stopped anyone from moving the ball at will. Count on the fact that these teams both had horrible performances on that side of the ball to be a major talking point in the coaching room this week. The team that is able to defend the best this time around probably will manage to come away with what could be an important win.

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