So far this season, the Lions have been close, which hasn’t been nearly good enough to break through with a win early on. In order to get over the hump, the team is going to have to find a way to tighten the screws and achieve a greater level of consistency on both sides of the ball.
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This week, considering some of the problems Detroit will have on offense with their dinged-up line, it’s going to have to be a total team effort for the Lions to hold up and emerge victorious in a tough road atmosphere.
What matchups will be key to that happening? Here’s a look.
Vikings’ Defensive Line vs. Lions’ Offensive Line
Detroit could be heading for some big trouble in this particular matchup considering the fact that they have lost not only Taylor Decker, but Frank Ragnow as well. Penei Sewell’s status also figures to be in jeopardy right up until game time, which means a veritable patchwork quilt offensive line will be set to take on a defensive front that has 13 sacks so far this season and major impact player in the form of Danielle Hunter. The Lions need to give Jared Goff time to sit back in the pocket and survey the field to make good decisions. If that doesn’t happen, it’s going to be a very long day for the Detroit offense.
Vikings’ Wide Receivers vs. Lions’ Secondary
If there’s a spot where the Lions are more dinged up than the offensive front, it would have to be the defensive secondary. Detroit’s cornerback group is playing multiple youngsters at the moment including the struggling Bobby Price and Will Harris and dealing with some issues as a result. The Vikings have some solid wideouts in the form of Adam Thielen as well as Justin Jefferson. Folks might mock Kirk Cousins, but he won’t need much effort to find big plays against this group if Detroit can’t match up on the back end. The Lions are struggling with pass defense in recent weeks giving up far too many explosive plays. The Vikings have the firepower to make the situation very ugly on Detroit this week.
Charles Harris vs. Vikings’ Offensive Line
The Lions’ defensive front sustained a major blow this week with the loss of Romeo Okwara, but Harris is well positioned to pick up the slack, leading the team with 3 sacks so far this season, and having all of them come in each of the last three games. In order to have a chance in this game, Detroit’s defensive line is going to have to generate some pocket pressure on Kirk Cousins and force him into some bad decisions. Harris is a former first-round pick who is capable of stepping up and delivering some results for the defense. It will be important to see if he manages to get more pressure on the pocket this week or not.
Kalif Raymond vs. Vikings’ Secondary
Raymond has come on strong in the last few weeks, snagging 11 receptions for 132 yards and 2 touchdowns. Both of those scores came last week against Chicago, and helped to make the game interesting. Raymond seems to have emerged from a crowded pack at wide receiver to make some plays, and that’s good news as he continues to earn the trust of Jared Goff. Watch and see if he can shake free and make some big plays against a secondary which has been stout so far this year to the tune of just 6 touchdowns allowed. Raymond has been a bit of a forgotten man, but Minnesota would be wise to key in on him, as he looks to be hitting his stride at just the right time.