Vikings fans and Viking haters alike need to calm down after Week 14’s loss to the Detroit Lions. While the Vikings were defensively exposed, this game does not define who the Vikings are.
Sunday’s game was an opportunity to clinch the NFC North for the first time since 2017, but the Vikings could not capitalize on this in Detroit. The Lions have been tough competitors against the Vikings the last 4 matchups prior to Sunday were decided by a total of 10 points combined. With these matchups being so close, it didn’t help the Lions have been on a tear winning 4 of the last 5 games. Playing on the road against a division opponent you have recently played closely and are red hot is not the ideal matchup for any team.
Injuries also played a huge role in Sunday’s game. Most notably Harrison Smith, the veteran safety that has continued to show off his playmaking abilities this season was out with an injury. The offensive line also was down for both Christian Darrisaw and Garrett Bradbury. This was seen as Kirk Cousins was under pressure all day and Dalvin Cook was limited to just 23 yards on 15 carries. Once healthy, many of these issues may be resolved.
There were also some freak events that occurred during this game which happened to favor the Lions. A fumble on the goal line by Cook left the Vikings empty-handed on a drive late during the first half. As for special teams, the Lions were able to convert a fake punt attempt for a first down as the Vikings were attempting to mount a comeback like they have done all season. These are events that in 2022 have benefited Minnesota but did not on Sunday. While these are not the reasons the Vikings lost, they did play a factor. The defense was the biggest factor.
Jared Goff and his offense aired out the Vikings and rang them up for 34 points and 464 total yards. This loss made it clear the defense will be the limiting factor for the Vikings this season. Thankfully, for Vikings fans is still time to figure something out. It is not realistic to think this defense can magically become the best defense in the NFL, but improvements are certainly possible.
In the grand scheme of things, the Vikings are in a great spot. They have earned a 4-game lead over the closest team in their division. With just one win, the Vikings will clinch a home playoff game but are certainly expected to do more. Currently, the remaining opponents for the season include 2 home games against the Colts and Giants and 2 away games against struggling division rivals the Packers and the Bears. Certainly, in the Vikings’ eyes, these are all winnable games and could help with seeding purposes in the NFC. While the 1 seed gets a first-round bye in the playoffs, the Eagles are well on their way to earning that spot. The Vikings are currently the 2 seed and have a favorable schedule ahead of them. Playing at home in January during the playoffs is important for this team, especially if they want to make a run and beat teams like the Dallas Cowboys and the San Francisco 49ers.
While Sunday’s loss to the Lions was not even considered an upset by most major gambling websites, it sure was treated like one. At the end of the day, fans can be concerned after the result, they just shouldn’t think they are a bad team though; haters can jump for joy, they just shouldn’t celebrate too hard.