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Lions vs Vikings Preview

The Lions have spent the last several weeks ending streaks of futility, the division losing streak, the road losing streak and then starting a road winning streak. This week the Lions have the opportunity to beat the Vikings for the first time since 2007 and have their first four game winning streak since 1999. The Lions have only beaten the Vikings twice since 2001, so they have the opportunity to take another big step.

The Vikings and the Lions are on opposite ends of the spectrum right now. The Lions are stocked with young playmakers with a bright future and appear to be a team on the rise. The Vikings are clearly on the decline with an uncertain future at quarterback, an aging offensive line, an aging defensive line and their stadium is in shambles.

The Vikings earned an unlikely win last week against the Eagles who seemed to underestimate the road weary Vikings. The Vikings got back to Minnesota early Wednesday morning and had an extremely short week to prepare for tomorrow’s game.

Offense:

The feared Viking pass rush has not been up to snuff this season as they have gone from leading the league in sacks to 17th this season.  The Lions’ offensive line did an amazing job last week against one of the best pass rushes in the league, they shouldn’t have difficulty keeping Shaun Hill clean tomorrow.  The Viking’s secondary has struggled this season, but since Leslie Frazier took over as head coach they have improved.  Frazier is more aggressive with his play calls and started blitzing more than he did when Childress was in charge.

The Vikings’ run defense is still fairly formidable, but that has more to do with how easy it is to throw on them.  Teams have had so much success passing, why bother running?  The Lions’ simplified rushing attack is clicking and I don’t expect the Lions to have a hard time moving the ball on the Vikings’ defense.  Maurice Morris has a quick hitting running style and he excels at “getting skinny” in the hole and picking up tough yardage.  The only thing that can really hamper the Lions’ rushing attack is Calvin Johnson’s status.

If CJ can’t go against the Vikings, Minnesota will be able to sit in eight man fronts all day to stuff the run.  Nate Burleson, Brandon Pettigrew, Tony Scheffler and Jahvid Best are all playmakers in the passing game, but none of them are the established big play threat CJ is.  The Vikings’ linebackers will have a hard time matching up withthe Lions’ tight ends and backs.  If the Lions are without Johnson, they should be able to use the short passing game to move the ball.  Yardage will be a little tougher to come by without the threat of the big play, but the Lions have moved the ball against considerably better defenses over the last month.

Defense:

Oh how the mighty have fallen, Joe Webb is likely going to start for the Vikings and he will be an upgrade over Brett Favre.  Favre enjoyed a renaissancelast season against a cupcake schedule, but found much tougher sledding this season.  Favre is easily rattled and his physical skills have diminished considerably.  Joe Webb is an unknown commodity with great athleticism and a big arm.  He has unrefined pocket passer skills and little experience reading NFL defenses at this point in his career.  However, his physical skills allow him to buy time and get out of the pocket to exploit coverage breaks in the secondary.

Adrian Peterson’s hard hitting running style has lead to a number of injuries this season but still put together a Pro Bowl year.  He hasn’t broken as many long runs as in his first few seasons due to an ankle injury, but he looked as healthy as he has all season last week.  Peterson has been a thorn in the Lions’ side his whole career.  The Lions hold him in check on 90% of his carries, but he always finds a way to rip off a back breaking run at the worst times.  The Lions’ linebackers will have their hands full with Peterson and expect the Vikings to attack the perimeter of the Lions defense.  Julian Peterson and the revolving door at the other outside linebacker spot are the weak links int he front seven.  DeAndre Levy has been a beast in the middle, so the Vikings will try to avoid him.

Percy Harvin and Sidney Rice are legitimate big play threats on the outside and the Vikings will go after the Lions’ banged up secondary.  The Lions will be without Chris Houston and will start Nathan Vasher and Tye Hill, niether of whom were on the roster Week 1.

Wild Card:

Calvin Johnson’s health is the biggest wild card in this game.  If Calvin’s healthy the Lions should be more than the Vikings can handle.  If Calvin can’t go, the Lions will have to fight through eight man fronts and a secondary sitting on short routes.

Prediction:

I like the Lions to win the season finale against the Vikings.  The Lions have worked hard to shed the loser label and they are playing the best football they’ve played since making the playoffs in 1999.  Leslie Frazier has breathed new life into the Vikings, but the Lions have more to prove than the Vikings and that should be the difference.


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3 Responses to “Lions vs Vikings Preview”

  1. CrackerJack says:

    It’s label,not lable so I think your prediction is also suspect and perhaps not solid. Vikes win this one homey.

  2. I know how to spell label, it was a typo.

    My prediction has some reasoning behind it, whereas yours does not so I’m going to say your prediction is suspect homey.

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