Lions Film Shows A Need For Continued Improvement From Defense Against Minnesota On Thanksgiving.
Lions Need Offensive Line From Week Nine Back
One of the keys to the Lions success against the Vikings in Minnesota a couple weeks ago was the offensive line. Coming off their worst performance of the season against Jacksonville last week, the Lions need their offensive line to return to their previous form against the Vikings.
The Vikings front four was wrecking havoc in the Cardinals backfield all day long last week. They applied constant pressure throughout this game without having to blitz. This pressure forced a talented Cardinals offense to sputter and led to four sacks. Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer began forcing balls due to the pressure that led to multiple turnovers. The pressure the front four created for Minnesota was key in their victory over Arizona.
If the Lions offensive line plays the way they have previous to the Jaguars game they would be in good position to win again versus the Vikings and hold onto the crown of the NFC North. However, if the offensive line continues to struggle the way they did against Jacksonville, the Vikings defense could win the game against the Lions just like they did against the Cardinals.
Lion’s Defense Will Want To Repeat Play From Weeks Nine and 11
In my week 9 preview article I wrote that a key aspect to the previous matchup was going to be whether the Viking’s offensive line was able to contain the Lions’ front seven. While the defense only forced two sacks, there was enough pressure forced on Sam Bradford to keep him uncomfortable. Since Bradford does not handle pressure well, his poor play led the Vikings offense to become stagnant in the second half. This kept the door open for Detroit to come from behind and force the overtime win.
The Detroit Lions’ defense is coming off an even better game versus Jacksonville and should continue to improve. With star defensive end Ziggy Ansah only getting healthier, the pressure could be even better than the week nine performance.
The offensive line woes of the Vikings has not improved in the past three weeks. Should this unit continue their abysmal play, look for this improving Lions defense to build on their previous performance.
Compounded with this pressure and improved play is the fact that cornerback Darius Slay should be available and healthy for this matchup. Slay being back in the lineup is huge for this Lions team as the Vikings have yet to find another playmaking option outside of receiver Stefon Diggs. If Slay is lined up against Diggs for most of this game it could be another tough outing for this Viking’s offense.
Prediction: Lions Win 21-13
I expect a Lions team who has only gotten healthier since the last matchup to find success again versus the Vikings. With an improving defense, Slay and Ansah getting healthier, home field advantage flipped in their favor, and all combined with their recent Thanksgiving day success it’s hard to bet against the Lions this Turkey Day. If the Lions do fall to the Vikings this week, expect it to come from a Lion’s offensive line that is continuing their struggle from last week against the Jaguars.