Lions vs. Vikings: Justin Jefferson, Kirk Cousins Hold Key for Detroit

Kirk Cousins

Getty Kirk Cousins gets hit during a game against the Lions in 2021.

The Detroit Lions are in early position within the NFC North, and that’s good news as it relates to their trajectory in 2022.

Many see the Lions as a team that will step up and have a big season. If that’s to be the case, a divisional win in Week 3 could go a long way toward getting the team over the hump.

So who will get the job done this week? Here’s a look at some key variables for the game and a prediction.

Can the Lions Run Wild Again?

So far, the Lions have rushed for 181 yards and 191 yards respectively. Those are pretty good totals, and amazing numbers for a team that hasn’t found running the ball easy.

With a dinged-up offensive line, can the Lions keep this going? Minnesota is struggling in run defense this year, so the Lions could use that fact to their advantage this week. Though D’Andre Swift is still fighting an ankle injury, the team can expect him to grind things out along with Jamaal Williams.

If the Lions get a big effort on the ground again, it will spell trouble for the Vikings, who may struggle to keep their footing given it will help the Lions to be dangerous on offense with the pass.

Will Detroit Limit Justin Jefferson?

When teams limit wideout Justin Jefferson, they have a great chance at beating Minnesota. That trend has played out throughout the first two weeks of this season, in fact.

In Week 1, Jefferson went wild against Green Bay, putting up 184 yards and two touchdowns. Minnesota won in a romp. In Week 2, Jefferson totaled just 48 yards against Philadelphia, and the Vikings lost in blowout fashion.

Last season, Jefferson went wild against Detroit, piling up 306 yards and one touchdown. Detroit went 1-1 in those games, but in order to have a chance, they need to do a way better job on Jefferson. The numbers show why.

Does the Lions’ Pass Rush Continue to Work?

The Lions have been elite so far this year at forcing quarterbacks to move in the pocket if not sacking them entirely. Their pass rush was a big reason they won in Week 2.

This week, they get another quarterback that doesn’t like to move much in Kirk Cousins. The Lions should be able to tee off a bit again, and it will be interesting to see if the Lions can get after the pocket again.

If the Lions pressure Cousins and he doesn’t have time to make throws, it could be a very bad day for the Vikings and their offense. The pressure is on the Detroit offense to step up and make some things happen.

How Much Does a Short Rest Week Matter?

It’s possible the Vikings are at a bit of a disadvantage in this contest, considering they played on Monday night and lost in a big way. The Lions, meanwhile, have the extra day of rest in this battle.

In the past, these things haven’t mattered much, but the short week means the Vikings will have a few players that have to sit on the defensive side of the football. Clearly, it might have been easier for the team to have a Sunday game to come into the week.

The Lions could benefit from a dinged-up, tired Vikings team.

Prediction: Vikings 24, Lions 20
Games between the Lions and Vikings are always close, and dating back to last year, both games were decided by a grand total of four points. Expect that to continue once again this year.

The Lions have a chance to win this game, but it’s tough to win on the road in a raucous environment.

READ NEXT: Jared Goff Puts Vikings Game in Perspective

Read More