FanPost

On Paper: Lions vs. Vikings

Welcome back, everybody.  It's a brand new week as Detroit goes on the road for the second time this season against a division foe.  Many people wrote this game off as a loss in the offseason, but now that both teams are 0-2, this matchup is much more intriguing.

This week I have eliminated any preseason stats.  Something to keep in mind is that the Vikings statistics are, in essence, compared to the other team that their opponents have played.  In other words, the Vikings performance against the Saints is going to be compared to how the 49ers did against New Orleans, and their game against the Dolphins will be compared to how the Bills fared against Miami.

Lions Pass Offense (11th) vs. Vikings Pass Defense (7th)

Opponent

Opponent's

Passing YPG

Passing Yards vs. Vikings

Opponent's

Season QB Rating

QB Rating vs. Vikings

Saints

233.0

237

105.2

101.3

Dolphins

135.0

114

85.1

106.0

Let's start with the good news.  Minnesota has only registered three sacks this season and have yet to record their first interception.  Additionally, opponents are completing 70.6% of their passes, which ranks Minnesota's defense at 30th.  A lot of attention has been given to the poor performance of Minnesota's quarterback (who if you remember from last season, I never refer to by name), but Minnesota's pass defense hasn't quite been themselves in the first two weeks. 

Still, this unit is better than these stats seem to imply.  They still have Jared Allen, who has one of the teams' three sacks.  Last year, however, the Lions limited Allen's effectiveness.  In his two total games, Allen only amassed five tackles, one sack and one forced fumble.  If we go back two years, the numbers aren't as pretty; eight tackles and three sacks and one huge temper-tantrum directed at Gosder Cherilus

Though the Vikings are giving up a lot of completions, they aren't prone to giving up big plays.  They've only given up four passing plays of 20 yards or longer, ranking them 5th in the league.  This points to the good play of their solid corners, Antoine Winfield and second-year player Asher Allen

According to our sister website, The Daily Norseman, Minnesota's defense is nothing Vikes fans have to worry about:

            "In the first two games of this season, Minnesota's opponents have had 22 possessions. In those 22 possessions, the Viking defense has yielded only three scores, all touchdowns[...]So, the defense isn't the problem, to be certain."

Shaun Hill will start his second game as a Lions, and the only statistic that people seem to be able to credit Hill for is his record.  Hill's performance last week was adequate, but not great.  Take away Jahvid Best's yards after catch, and Hill's numbers go from satisfactory to disappointing. 

Both units have, so far, underperformed to their talent.  The injury to Nate Burleson could be devastating to the Lions, even though he only has two catches on the season.  The Lions wide receivers were severely limited in his absence last week.  The Lions tight ends might need to come through big again this week, but as I see it, this matchup could really go either way.  Draw.

Lions Run Offense (30th) vs. Vikings Run Defense (10th)

Opponent

Opponent's

Rushing YPG

Rushing Yards vs. Vikings

Opponent's Season Avg YPC

YPC vs. Vikings

Saints

64.5

79

2.6

3.2

Dolphins

126.0

120

3.9

4.4

 

The Lions run offense has shot up the charts (from 32 to 30!) after a disappointing first week (21 total yards).  Sarcasm aside, Best's performance against the Eagles has got Lions fans giddy like Matt Millen has been fired all over again.  His actual rushing stats were mediocre at 78 yards on 17 carries, but it looked a lot more impressive than that.  I hate to make the comparison, but it was just too reminiscent of Barry Sanders.  Best would pick up an impressive 10+ yards on one carry but then follow it up with an ugly three yard loss. To prove my point, Best had four carries of 10+ yards last week and four carries that went for negative yardage. 

Meanwhile, Minnesota's run defense has been surprisingly average.  As you can see in the chart, the Vikings have been the worse of the two opponents in almost every statistic.  However, much like their passing defense, this is still a fairly talented group.  Kevin and Pat Williams still run the center of the line, but they are backed up by a group of linebackers whose talent is still under question.  Though the three of them started the majority of the games last season, they have never really been the strength of this defense.  The most impressive of the three is Chad Greenway, who tallied 99 tackles and three interceptions last year. 

Overall, this should be a pretty good matchup.  Minnesota is one of six teams to have given up a 40+ yard rush, and because of this and the Jahvid Best factor, I give Detroit the slight edge.  Lions +1. 

Vikings Pass Offense (24th) vs. Lions Pass Defense (30th)

Opponent

Opponent's Passing YPG Allowed

Passing Yards Allowed vs. Vikings

Opponent's Season QB Rating Against

QB Rating Allowed vs. Vikings

Saints

218.5

171

77.4

71.7

Dolphins

162.0

225

58.3

44.3

At the epicenter of all of Minnesota's problems is "That Guy from There's Something About Mary."  From now on, I'm going to call him TGfTSAM, just to make things incredibly more complicated.  Anyway, let's enjoy the schaudenfreude of the following statistics:  TGfTSAM has four interceptions (2nd worst), a team completion percentage of 58.7 (22nd) and a QB rating of 56.1 (29th).  Mmmmm, tasty. 

So everyone in Minnesota is up in arms, while everyone everywhere else is happily nodding their heads knowing this was bound to happen.  So, why is TGfTSAM struggling so badly after his most impressive season to date?  Well, a lot of it has to do with his receivers.  Sidney Rice has been out, Percy Harvin is hobbling with a hip/brain injury and Bernard Berrian has been a nonfactor. 

So the Lions are big winners in this matchup, right?  Uh...not...so...fast.   Detroit's secondary continues to be the most frustrating part of this team.  Not only did they pretty much lose the game for Detroit last week, but they basically won Michael Vick a job.

Detroit is second in the league in sacks (9) and that may be the key to this matchup, but I really can't imagine TGfTSAM, who has never lost to the Lions at home, having another off-day.  Vikings +1*.

*Fun fact: while typing the advantage, I inadvertently typed "Packers +1".  Wonder why I did that...

 

Vikings Run Offense (11th) vs. Lions Run Defense (27th)

Opponent

Opponent's Rushing YPG Allowed

Rushing Yards Allowed vs.

Vikings

Opponent's Avg YPC Allowed

YPC Allowed vs. Vikings

Saints

116.5

91

4.8

4.0

Dolphins

103.0

156

4.1

4.7

 

The Vikings were held down against the Saints in the season opener, but blew things open against a very solid Dolphins defense last week.  Adrian Peterson has showed no signs of slowing, much to my (and my fantasy team's) dismay.  Peterson already is 3rd in rushing yards, and perhaps more impressively, has not fumbled yet this season.

Meanwhile, my confidence in Detroit's run defense took a crushing blow last week when LeSean McCoy ran all over my dreams.  Detroit hopes to be helped out by the return of DeAndre Levy this week, but it appears they may have lost Zack Follett for the week with concussion symptoms.  Somehow, this appears to be Follett's first ever concussion, which makes absolutely no sense to me.  Anyways, I'd love to think that the defensive line could win this matchup for us every week, but in reality they can't.  The linebackers are too inexperienced and everyone in the secondary not named Delmas seems physically incapable of playing the run effectively.  Vikings +2. 

Overall

Surprisingly, I'm left with a Viking advantage of just +2.  A win for the Lions would be miraculous.  Not only would fans get the pleasure of a win and the end of Detroit's road skid, but it would feel soooooooo good to see the Vikings fall to 0-3.  I really don't think a win is completely out of the question, either. 

Admittedly, up until writing this preview I hadn't even thought about giving Detroit a chance in this game.  But TGfTSAM could very well continue his struggling trend, especially with the pressure Detroit's front four will bring.  There's a big part of me that wants to go all out with a double-digit underdog pick, but that sense of defensive futility is just a little too strong with me, and Detroit's offense was just too inconsistent last week.  Lions lose a squeaker: Lions 24 Vikings 27.  

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

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