At this point, I might as well copy-paste my intro every week considering every game is the exact same as the one before. Another week, another nail-biting victory for the Minnesota Vikings. This past week’s opponent was Mike White and the New York Jets but the result was the same. Looking forward, the Vikings have an opportunity to clinch the NFC North title with a victory over the red-hot (5-7) Detroit Lions. Here are three things the Vikings need to do to come away with another victory.
1. Survive a Potent Passing Attack
It is no secret that the Vikings’ pass defense has been abysmal this year, dead last to be specific, so it should not come as a surprise when I say that it will be a huge key to this game. A banged-up cornerback room for the Vikings will once again be put to the test against the Lions’ offense which ranks top ten in passing yards per game. The biggest threat for the Lions is second-year wideout Amon-Ra St. Brown who has been nothing short of fantastic this year, emerging as a true number-one wide receiver. But the depth behind St. Brown is solid as well with D.J. Chark came off a 98-yard performance against his former team the Jacksonville Jaguars and veterans Kalif Raymond and Josh Reynolds rounding out a solid group. We also could see highly-touted first-round rookie Jameson Williams potentially seeing more action after recovering from a torn ACL in college. If the secondary of the Vikings can survive just long enough against this potent attack, the offense should be able to keep pace.
2. Counter with an Aerial Attack of Your Own
In a game between the 31st and 32nd-ranked defenses, scoring is going to be plentiful. The Vikings’ secondary is going to struggle early and often against the Lions’ receivers so the Vikings are going to have to keep up on offense. The last time these two teams met, Justin Jefferson was held to a career-low 14 yards receiving. That simply cannot happen again (and I do not expect it to in the slightest). In week three, the Lions made it abundantly clear that they were not going to let Jefferson beat them. If that is the case this time around I think former Lion T.J. Hockenson will make them pay in a cold-blooded revenge game (Hockenson has said nothing but nice things about his time in Detroit but that doesn’t make for fun writing now does it?) Bold prediction: Kirk Cousins has his first 400-yard game of the season as four different pass catchers eclipse 75 yards.
3. Continue Defensive Success in the Red Zone
The past few weeks have seen the Vikings’ defense employ a bend-but-don’t-break style that has worked well. In the past three games, Vikings’ opponents have scored a touchdown on only 25% of trips to the red zone. This is a huge improvement over the earlier parts of the season where they were mediocre at best. This certainly feels like a game where anytime the opposing defense comes away with only a field goal it can be considered a win. In order for the Vikings to stay in this one the defense has to continue their clutchness near the endzone. I have enough faith in the offense that if the defense can hold the Lions to a field goal on a few trips to the red zone in between touchdowns, the Vikings can come away with their 11th win on the season and a division title.
The Vikings squeak out another victory in an offensive shootout in a game between two of the worst defenses in the league. Vikings 36, Lions 30