The Detroit Lions will be opening up NFC North play this Sunday when the team travels to Minnesota to take on the Vikings. Each team comes from a different end of the spectrum after Week Two, with the Lions winning and the Vikings being embarrassed on national television. We have all the makings of a black and blue NFC North matchup. As Stanley Yelnats would do, let's dig a little deeper into this matchup with our very own preview and prediction.
I've mentioned it a few times already, but what will it hurt to mention it a few more times? The Vikings were treated like a youth league football team that had to play an older age group when they were blasted by the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday night, 24-7. Kirk Cousins and the boys will be looking to right the ship, even with the Minnesota offense not taking off like many had thought to start the season.
The Vikings' offense comes in ranked 20th overall in the league in total yards, which is a polar opposite to the Lions, who sit 4th overall, averaging 405 yds of offense per game. I'm not sure many people would have predicted these offenses would be in this situation. The Minnesota offense is led by Justin Jefferson, who can fill up a stat sheet in an instant. Jefferson sits 5th overall in receiving yards at 232, with 2 TDs to add to his resume on the season. The Lions' secondary will have their hands full all game when Jefferson is on the field.
On the ground, we all know the potential Dalvin Cook possesses in the backfield. His 2022 campaign has been less than ideal for the three-time Pro-Bowler, as Cook has yet to eclipse 100 yards in a single game. Cook's counterpart D'Andre Swift has been electric in the Lions' first two games this year, with already 200 yds. rushing on the young season. The possibility is there for fans to experience a run dominant game on both sides, which could bring some highlight reel runs.
I don't want people to get confused by this, so let me first say I am a Jared Goff stan. Without his performance last week, the Lions don't win that game. However, with the looming matchup of Goff and Cousins, I think I can safely say we're all expecting a mid-off. Cousins sits one spot ahead of Goff in ESPN's QB rankings as the two quarterbacks rank 18th and 19th, respectively. My gut feeling tells me the losing team will fall in this game by a costly mistake by one of these field managers.
Is it just me, or are you guys sick of seeing Harrison Smith in the Vikings' secondary? Smith has been a menace for Minnesota since before I was born, but, luckily, the Lions won't' have to deal with him this weekend due to injury. The patchwork secondary will have their hands full with a budding wide receiver unit that is led by the touchdown Sun-god Amon-Ra St. Brown, who has found the blue endzones of Ford Field three times this season.
Goff needs to have his eyes on linebacker Jordan Hicks for the entire time the Minnesota defense is on the field. Hicks has 17 tackles on the season, which is good for second on the team. Smith leads the team overall with 20. Hicks earned his first interception on Monday (Yeah, I'm going to say it again) in the blowout loss to the Eagles. The Vikings' defense has been the franchise's foundation for years, but this year has shown more holes than in previous seasons.
I'll pat myself on the back since no one else is. I correctly predicted the Lions would defeat the Commanders in a game that wouldn't be all that close, and it felt that way all game. This week, I'm not as enthusiastic about the outcome. The Vikings will be out for blood, and why not take their frustrations on those ol' Lions? Well, not so fast my friend. I haven't run out of blue kool-aid yet, and I've already told Mom to pick up more on her next grocery visit. Baby, those same ol' Lions, are in the history books. Give me the good guys 31-28 in their first road test of the season.