It was down to Earth for Vikings fans last Monday, with the Eagles steamrolling for a 24-7 win that honestly should’ve been by a more significant margin. It was proper domination in Philadelphia, and Kevin O’Connell had a shorter week to show what this team is made of. The game against the Lions gained more importance after last week for a couple of reasons.
Respond to Adversity
The first and most important key, in my opinion, is that today we will find out how this Vikings team responds to adversity. It is very easy to be in a good mood when everything is going well. Since Adofo-Mensah and O’Connell were hired to run the show, this is the first time that they’ve been hit with turbulent waters.
A win against the Lions will already give the Vikings a 2-0 record in the division with 2 games against the Bears still to come. I know we may be thinking otherwise now, but this still is a good roster.
Make no mistake, this is not the same old Lions that the Vikings usually beat. Since Dan Campbell arrived it’s clear that something has changed. They might’ve ended last season with the 2nd overall pick, but if it weren’t for a miracle 34-second drive, they would’ve swept the Vikings. We also can’t forget the loss coming from a 66-yard field goal against the Ravens.
Detroit competed last season, even with a lesser roster than they have now. Improvements to the team only makes this a harder matchup in 2022.
The Offense Must Use It’s Full Arsenal
This game has a high shootout probability. Even though their offense is top 10 in DVOA, their defense figure in the bottom. This is where the Vikings must take advantage. For once, establish the run game with Cook and Mattison, use Thielen and Osborn in the passing game, and take control of the ball.
This means time of possession and no turnovers. The offensive line will have to deal with an Aidan Hutchinson coming off a 3.0 sacks game against Washington, so he’ll be motivated. In theory, the offense is way better than their defense, so let’s see if this will prove to be true.
A Difficult Mission for the Defense
Hypothetically, the offense should have a relatively easy time putting points on the board. The defense, on the other hand, must undergo a monstrous task.
RB D’Andre Swift is averaging 10.0 yards per carry and already has 200 yards on the ground. Second-year WR Amon-Ra St. Brown equaled the record for consecutive games with at least 8 receptions (8). He eclipsed the 100-yard mark and had 2 touchdowns against the Commanders. Although Jared Goff isn’t a top QB, he has one of the best offensive lines blocking for him, which gives him time to find an open player.
Ed Donatell decided not to blitz Jalen Hurts much, but I think it’s a good call to send pressure this time. It has been a little disappointing seeing the pass rush in the first two weeks, and Goff can have a good game if the defense allows him to get into a rhythm.
This task got tougher since the defense will be down Harrison Smith, out due to the concussion protocol. It’s either Lewis Cine or Josh Metellus alongside Cam Bynum at safety.
At the end of the day, the Vikings will have a much brighter outlook on their season at 2-1 rather than 1-2. Standing in their way is an upstart Lions team that could give the Vikings defense a few headaches. Minnesota must respond in adversity and come out with this win to get their season back on track. This should be a very exciting Vikings game this afternoon.