An In-Depth Preview Of The Lions Week Four Matchup Against The Minnesota Vikings.
The Vikings 2017 Season So Far
The Vikings have started off the season well, with a 2-1 record, tied for the NFC North lead with the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers. They had a week one win against the Saints, followed by a loss to the Steelers. They also won last week against the Buccanneers with former-Rams quarterback Case Keenum at the the helm, who impressed with 369 yards and three touchdowns.
In the game against the Saints, what really sticks out is how efficient this offense is playing with a healthy running game. Rookie running back Dalvin Cook ran all over the Saints, averaging 5.7 yards per carry and totally 127 yards. The Saints defense has really been poor the past several seasons and that looked to be the case in this game as well.
The offense played a big role in their win against the Buccaneers as well. Cook looked good again on the ground with nearly 100 yards and a touchdown. Case Keenum looked good as mentioned previously, but receiver Stefon Diggs also had a great day posting 173 yards receiving and two touchdowns, on eight catches.
This was the worst the Vikings looked in their first three games, but that should be expected with it being their only loss on the season. The Steelers fast offense was able to exploit the Vikings main weakness on defense. Their defense runs an aggressive blitz scheme where they consistently leave their linebackers in one-on-one matchups. The Steelers have play-makers on offense that have the tools to take advantage of these matchups and it showed up in the box score with a 26-9 win over Minnesota.
Matchups To Watch For
Vikings Defensive Ends vs Lions Tackles
Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen is having a great start to this season. Not only has he gotten four sack so far, but he is consistently in the quarterbacks face with pressures and hits. Danielle Hunter on the other side has also been looking good with his lethal speed and burst. He has yet to register a sack on the season, but he has looked explosive as ever.
Rick Wagner has been rock solid at right tackle so far this season for the Lions. He has been able to use his great length and power to either ride defenders up the field or to stop them in their tracks, effectively this season. Where the biggest question mark will come from is how well left tackle Greg Robinson can handle Griffen after he called out Robinson’s hustle this week.
Robinson will not have the opportunity to take plays off against a relentless rusher like Griffen. For the Lions to be successful in this game, they have to protect Matthew Stafford. Whether or not Stafford’s tackles can corral the Vikings ends, should be a big indicator for the outcome of this game.
Dalvin Cook vs Jarrad Davis
This matchup will be very exciting to watch over their careers. Davis has really transformed the Lions defense. The unit as a whole plays much better with Davis in their. The rookie’s absence was felt in their recent loss to the Atlanta Falcons. Jarrad is the only true “three down linebacker” on the Lions roster with his sideline-to-sideline speed and aggressive downhill attacking against the run game.
Expect Cooks to give Davis some trouble though. Cook’s vision and burst makes him a threat on every play. But this should serve as a good test for Davis. If he is over-pursuing, Cook will likely be able to take advantage of that opportunity. But Davis has a chance to show why he was drafted in the first round by stopping Cook in this matchup. If he can limit Cook, it would go along way in helping defeat this run-first team.