Minnesota Vikings fans ought to be wary of Week 9. The Vikings face the Detroit Lions, a team that is traditionally the laughingstock of the NFC North. Nevertheless, they’ll likely present a strong challenge for Minnesota. The Vikings struggle coming off big wins, so this game should be interesting. With that said, our Three Keys.
Mike Zimmer vs. Matt Patricia
Matt Patricia shouldn’t be scaring anyone. Vikings fans certainly have their concerns about Mike Zimmer (some justified, most unjustified), but he is far, far better than Patricia. Zimmer may have a reputation for being a little prickly with the press, but at least he hasn’t offered critiques of their posture. The key really rests in how well Zim does of preparing and motivating. There is still talent on this Vikings team, so the onus falls on the leadership to get the most out of the players.
Eric Kendricks & Eric Wilson
T.J. Hockenson & D’Andre Swift
It’s unclear who will be taking snaps at QB for the Lions. Regardless of who is under center, T.J. Hockenson and D’Andre Swift ought to be primary targets in the passing game. Thankfully, this happens to play into the strength of Minnesota’s defense.
Usually, the Vikings would need to concern themselves with Kenny Golladay, but he will miss the Week 9 game. The Lions will feature Swift, Hockenson, and Marvin Jones (who is underrated). Eric Kendricks and Eric Wilson are both strong coverage linebackers (especially Kendricks). It hasn’t happened too often this season, but the strength of our defense happens to match up well with the opposing team’s offensive strengths.
Justin Jefferson & Adam Thielen vs. Detroit’s Corners
We fully expect the Lions to go all-out on slowing Dalvin Cook. Now, we’ve already expressed our skepticism about Patricia’s coaching abilities (or, rather, lack thereof), but this one just seems so obvious. Load the box, contain Cook, and then take your chances with Kirk Cousins. This is where Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen factor into the equation.
If the Lions corral Cook, the focus shifts toward Minnesota’s elite receiver combo. Jeff Okudah has had a rough start to his NFL career, so expect Cousins to look in his direction early. It also wouldn’t be surprising to see Gary Kubiak try to find balance by incorporating his offense’s other play makers: Irv Smith Jr. Kyle Rudolph, Chad Beebe, etc. Doing so would help keep Detroit’s defense guessing.
The Crystal Ball
It’s Groundhog Day over here at TVG. Another week, another missed prediction. In our defense (which is surely growing thin), not many expected the Vikings to actually take down the Packers. Even still, we’ve had a rough go. If anyone asks, the crystal ball is broken.
In what is a Jesus-Take-The-Wheel-Moment for our prediction series, we (with no little trepidation) roll with the guys in purple. Vikings take down the Lions in a critical NFC North game.
Offseason Prediction: Vikings 28 – Lions 17
Updated Prediction: Vikings 24 – Lions 17