The Detroit Lions will be facing their NFC North rivals, the Minnesota Vikings, this weekend in a battle for the top spot in the division. At the start of the season, the Lions had assumed they would be going against Sam Bradford in this game, but Bradford was hurt in the season-opening win against the New Orleans Saints and has missed the past two games.
In Bradford’s absence, the Vikings turned to Case Keenum to lead their offense and were shut down by the Pittsburgh Steelers in week 2. Last week, Keenum had a breakout game in Minnesota’s win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, finishing the game with 369 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Keenum’s performance last week will make the oddsmakers rethink the Detroit Lions game odds for this week’s matchup against the Vikings.
Keenum, whose 369 yards were a career high, also didn’t turn the ball over. After the game, the backup quarterback said he understands that he is just filling in for Bradford and accepts his role on the team. He also added that he expects to be ready whenever his number is called, so he always stays prepared for any situation.
Stefon Diggs was Keenum’s favorite target on Sunday and finished the game with 173 yards and 2 touchdowns. Rookie running back Dalvin Cook continued to impress and finished with 169 total yards and his first career touchdown.
After finishing with 237 yards against the Steelers the previous week, the Vikings had amassed 494 yards and a 28-3 lead in the third quarter against Tampa Bay.
Diggs said Keenum came out swinging on Sunday, and when the team’s quarterback brings that type of energy to a game, the other players have to match it.
Minnesota’s defense certainly matched the offense’s energy because the defense picked off Tampa Bay’s Jameis Winston twice, with one of the interceptions returned 36 yards to set up a field goal.
Minnesota’s defense also did a good job against Mike Evans, who was held to only 67 receiving yards. They disrupted Evans’ game so much the cameras caught the receiver shoving a trash can close to the bench.
After the game, Evans apologized for the outburst and said it is something he can’t have happen again as one of the captains on the team.
Winston’s numbers at the end of the game were 28 of 40 completions for 328 yards. But he couldn’t overcome the slow start to the game and the turnovers. He too will need to do a better job protecting the ball if the Bucs want to make the playoffs this year.
Even though Vikings fans are excited about Keenum’s performance on Sunday, it would be wise not to expect the same type of performance against the Lions this week.
For his career, Keenum has historically done well against the Bucs. The undrafted University of Houston alum is 3-0 against the Bucs and has had some of his best games as a professional against Tampa Bay.
In his three starts against the Bucs, Keenum is 53 of 76 for 793 yards, 7 touchdowns, and 1 interception. Against the rest of the league, his numbers don’t look as good.
The Lions will be hoping the Keenum that played against the Steelers is the one they will see this weekend.