FanPost

On Paper: Lions vs. Vikings

For an explanation on my "On Paper" previews, check out my preview for the last time the Vikings faced the Lions.

Lions Pass Offense (21st) vs. Vikings Pass Defense (21st)

Last week I added charts of how other teams have fared against the Lions' upcoming opponent.  Because it was met with rave reviews*, I'm going to continue it for the rest of the year.

Opponent

Season Avg Passing Yards

Passing Yards vs. Minnesota

Season QB Rating

QB Rating vs. Minnesota

Browns

121.5

205

42.7

74.1

Lions

189.1

152

55.6

56.5

49ers

184.2

195

75.7

94.6

Packers

255.6

384

103.0

110.6

Rams

171.5

278

69.4

89.6

Ravens

242.1

385

89.9

109.2

Steelers

266.8

175

105.4

87.8

Packers

255.6

287

103.0

108.5

Though the Vikings aren't ranked very high in pass defense, they seem to hold their opponents close to their season averages.  The numbers are kind of everywhere, though.  From giving up 385 passing yards to the 11th ranked Ravens, to holding the 5th ranked Steelers to only 175 yards.  It's hard to predict which defense will show up.  But this week features a first in "On Paper".  We have a previous matchup to draw conclusions upon.  In week two, Minnesota held Detroit to totals very close to their season average.  It's now week ten, so the teams are undoubtedly different.  Matthew Stafford has more experience under his belt (but whether he's progressed is up for debate) and Jared Allen is hitting his stride.

Let's talk about Allen for a second.  When we last left Allen in week two, he had zero sacks and one tackle coming into the Lions game.  Against Detroit, he only mustered one sack, but he forced a fumble on it.  You can watch it here (please forgive me if you have to sit through one of those horrible Coors Light commercials).  Anyways, after the Detroit game, Allen went on a tear.  He has 9.5 sacks in the past six games.  He leads the league with 10.5 sacks.  To be fair, 7.5 of those sacks have come against the Packers.  Sacking Aaron Rodgers is kind of like blocking the shot of a five year old in basketball.  Sure you send a message, but you're not really proud of it.  But Allen's dominance cannot be denied.  In the past five seasons Allen has 9.5 more sacks than anyone else in the league (68 total).  I'd tally him down for another two this week.

On the Lions side, Stafford is starting to build a rapport with rookie Brandon Pettigrew.  Last week, Pettigrew pulled in seven for 70 yards and his first TD of his career.  Meanwhile, the Lions got Calvin Johnson back from injury, but not the one they were expecting.  Stafford struggled to find Johnson all game, and it appears both may be suffering from their lingering injuries. 

In the past five games, Minnesota's opponents have had a QB rating of at least 87 each week.  It'll be hard for the Lions to reach that total, as Stafford has only reached that benchmark twice in his short career.  Though they only managed 152 yards in their last matchup, I expect the Lions offense to show a little more confidence in their passing game and put up somewhere around 220 yards through the air.  But pressure from the impressive Minnesota defensive line is likely to produce around 2-3 turnovers (they forced 3 last time they met).  Because of Stafford's inconsistencies and Jared Allen, Minnesota gets the slight advantage, Vikes +1.

* "rave reviews" is blogger code for "no one noticed"

Lions Run Offense (20th) vs. Vikings Run Defense (6th)

Opponent

Season Avg Rusing Yards

Rushing Yards vs. Minnesota

Browns

99.6

89

Lions

104.4

129

49ers

101.4

58

Packers

121.0

82

Rams

116.1

122

Ravens

116.1

81

Steelers

115.2

106

Packers

121.0

90

Perhaps the heart of this team, Minnesota loves to boast the success of their run defense.  Indeed, the Kevin and Pat Williams duo is unmatched by anyone in the NFL.  But this unit may not be as good as they look.  A lot of writers like to flash the stat that the Vikings haven't given up a 100-yard rusher in 31 consecutive games.  But as you can see from the chart above, many teams collectively have surpassed the century mark this season.

Looking at the chart, you see that the Lions are actually the team who had the most success against this Minnesota front four.  Looking at the rest of the numbers, Minnesota has actually held their opponents below their season averages six out of eight weeks.  So they do deserve a lot of credit.  However, their overall numbers are slightly inflated because the best rushing offense they've faced is the Packers, who are only ranked 10th. 

Detroit, however, is not seeing the success they had in the Minnesota game.  Kevin Smith is continuing to struggle against weak competition.  Though not all the blame can be put on Smith, his production is well below expectations.  Even his 83 yard performance against the Vikings was a little worse than advertised.  In that game he only managed 3.46 a carry.  However, Smith has been supported by a nice cast of Maurice Morris and Aaron Brown, who both have looked impressive when relieving Smith (4.2 and 4.4 a carry, respectively). 

In the end, it's hard to deny Minnesota's superiority.  But because of the past matchup, I'm holding out some hope of success.  Vikes +1.

Vikings Pass Offense (14th) vs. Lions Pass Defense (31st)

Opponent

Opponent's Season Avg. Passing Yards Allowed

Passing Yards Allowed vs. Minnesota

Opponent's Season QB Rating Against

QB Rating Allowed vs. Minnesota

Browns

238.6

110

91.9

95.3

Lions

263.1

155

107.3

115.3

49ers

241.0

301

84.5

78.3

Packers

185.8

271

75.9

135.3

Rams

238.6

288

91.9

108.0

Ravens

225.8

278

86.7

136.9

Steelers

214.5

334

77.2

76.8

Packers

185.8

244

75.9

128.6

Again, we see signs of a completely erratic team.  On some days, Minnesota's Quarterback (who will be referred to as MQ from now on) will goes nutso for 334 yards against the Steelers, another day he'll puts a meager 110 against the Browns.  What has stayed consistent, however, is MQ's QB rating.  MQ is 2nd in the league, with a rating of 106.0.  What's even more impressive is that MQ leads the league in camera time by over 200 billion minutes.  The reason for the inconsistencies in MQ's passing yards is that Minnesota can decide whether they want to beat you through the air or the ground.  Earlier in the season, they chose ground.  In the middle of the season, they chose air.  Nowadays, they're a very balanced offense, so you don't know what to expect. 

What is different from their week two game is that MQ has built a rapport with his two young receivers, Sidney Rice and Percy Harvin.  Detroit, on the other hand, has yet to find their starting defensive backs.  A combination of injuries and suckiness has decimated this unit into a garbled mess of blown coverages and broken tackles. 

Again, the Lions gameplan will be to force MQ into mistakes by putting the blitz on.  Last time they brought down MQ three times, but it wasn't enough to force any MQ turnovers (AP did fumble, however).  It won't be enough this week either.  Vikes +3.

Vikings Run Offense (12th) vs. Lions Run Defense (17th)

Opponent

Season Avg Rusing Yards

Rushing Yards vs. Minnesota

Browns

170.5

225

Lions

109.9

112

49ers

93.2

94

Packers

97.1

63

Rams

134.8

89

Ravens

94.9

167

Steelers

70.4

89

Packers

97.1

111

Adrian Peterson has to be having one of the most underappreciated years in the history of the NFL.  With MQ  hogging the spotlight, AP has been averaging 98 yards a game and is third in the league with nine rushing TDs.  His explosiveness isn't gones as he's ranked second in runs of over 20 yards (8).  Though he's been slightly inconsistent from week to week, he's still a major threat.  As mentioned before, Minnesota's offensive gameplan changes week to week, so they don't always have to rely on AP.

But for some reason, Detroit always seems to be AP's kryptonite.  In his five games against Detroit, he is averaging 4 less yards per game (98.0) than his career average (102) and has had five fumbles (and only 3 TDs).  Though that may seem insignificant, given how terrible Detroit has been since AP has been in the league, you would expect huge numbers from him. 

The Lions' defensive line is looking healthy again, but one key injury may doom the Lions.  Larry Foote sat out of Wednesday and Thursday's practice.  Foote has been Detroit's most consistent player on defense, easily leading the team in tackles.  Without him in the middle, the Lions may be forced to move rookie DeAndre Levy to the MLB position, and play youngster Jordon Dizon in Levy's place (assuming that Ernie Sims is also sidelined with his injury).  Without Foote, the Lions are going to suffer.  With him, they have a chance.  Vikes +3 or +1.

Special Teams

Detroit's kick coverage has gone from, "oh god" to "can't wait to see Follett out there" back to "oh god".  Now that Harvin has exploded onto the special teams scene, I fear the worst.  Harvin is ranked second among returners with at least 10 returns (30.7 avg) and has returned two to the promised land (tied for first). 

Again, the kickers are a push, even though Jason Hanson booted one off the upright from 34 yards last week. 

As a Lions fan, I'm in favor of the squib kick 100% of the time against Minnesota.  If they start with the ball before their own 40, I consider it a win.  I expect the Lions to lose at least once. Vikes +1. 

Overall 

Hmph.  Well, the Vikings have the advantage in every matchup, totaling for a +7 or +9 advantage, depending on Foote's availability.  Not all that surprising in a 7-1 vs. 1-7 matchup.  However, not is all lost.  Most of the advantages in the matchups are small. The Lions played the Vikings tough last time, regardless of the "On Paper" deficit.  They could certainly do so again this week.  However, it seems to me like Minnesota is a much better team than they faced in week two.  I'm not so sure about the Lions improving since then.  In the end, I can't bring myself to pick Minnesota -17, but I'm guessing it'll be awfully close.  33-17 Vikings

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Pride Of Detroit or its writers.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Pride Of Detroit

You must be a member of Pride Of Detroit to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Pride Of Detroit. You should read them.

Join Pride Of Detroit

You must be a member of Pride Of Detroit to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Pride Of Detroit. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9341_tracker