For the first time this year, the Lions will get a chance to tangle with a rival and measure their progress against them. That represents an important step for a young team at this phase of their rebuild.
Even though that is the case, quarterback Jared Goff is holding back on saying that it is the most important early-season test for the Lions. Speaking to the media on Wednesday, September 21, Goff explained that the game could mean a lot come the end of the season in terms of playoff representation.
“It’d be big just because it’s a division game. It’s another one of those and those are always big,” Goff said. “By the end of the season, you look back at those as the ones that will typically dictate your playoff status so for that reason, it’s big. But for no other reason than that.”
Goff is right with regards to that fact. The Lions have to find a way to measure up early for their playoff future. If they do, it will be a big advantage for them. Should they lose, it isn’t exactly a death blow for their season, either.
With this comment, it’s clear the Lions and Goff are looking at this game correctly. They realize the chance it provides, but are quick not to elevate it too far in their mind.
Lions Pull to Early Tie Within NFC North
If the Lions want to seize the moment and win the division, they will have as good a chance as any to do so in 2022 assuming they can stay hot and win some head-to-head battles.
After a scattered first few weeks of the season, every team early on is at 1-1 in the division. That leaves the Lions in-play after the first week of the year, and keeps them in contention for the early part of the season. Typically, Detroit is close to being eliminated or far behind early in September.
Detroit hasn’t played any games against the division so far, but in Week 3, that will change. Should the Lions nab a key road win against Minnesota, that would leave them in great position early in the season to do some damage.
While the game might not be that big on the outside to Goff, it’s clear the team has a chance to measure up and make things right.
Lions Played Minnesota Tough in 2021
In terms of the head-to-head battle on the field, the Lions were a team that played Minnesota the closest in 2021. Detroit nearly pulled out an improbable win on the road, and did beat the Vikings at home for their first win of the season.
During the game in Minnesota, the Lions scored 17 points and were limited offensively. That didn’t stop them from launching a furious comeback that nearly ended in victory. Detroit only lost after a late meltdown and a long field goal to edge them out 19-17.
Revenge came later for Detroit in December. Detroit revved-up their offense and cruised to a 29-27 win on a last-second touchdown pass. The game was seen as the coming out party for Amon-Ra St. Brown, who is now a household name.
As a whole, these games show the Lions can hang with Minnesota, and the game should be an intriguing battle in 2022. It’s possible that the winner of this game will have the early inside track to the division and take a solid step toward late-season playoff contention.
Likely, as Goff knows, that represents a major opportunity for his team early in a season.
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