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The Cheat Sheet: The Lions should attack Xavier Rhodes early and often

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Detroit Lions vs. Minnesota Vikings game preview and prediction.

Minnesota Vikings v Detroit Lions Photo by Jorge Lemus/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Xavier Rhodes was once thought of as a top cornerback in the NFL. He even got a $70 million contract extension in 2017 after he made the Pro Bowl in 2016 and helped lead a fierce defense.

Well, those days are long gone, and Rhodes looks like a shell of his former self. In fact, Pro Football Focus has him as the 109th cornerback out of 119.

The Lions dialed up some deep shots against the Bears last week and it should be in their game plan again this week.

David Blough will be making his second start this week against the Vikings and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell would be smart to attack Rhodes early and often.

I would expect to see another big game from Kenny Golladay unless the Vikings decide to play a safety deep over the top. It will be the matchup of the week as far as I’m concerned.

Minnesota Vikings v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images

Opponent snapshot

At 8-4 the Minnesota Vikings are firmly in second place in the division. They’re coming off of a tough loss against the Seattle Seahawks and will be looking to get back in the win column against a beat up Detroit Lions team.

Minnesota Vikings v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Vikings’ biggest threat

Dalvin Cook

Even though Cook went out early from last week’s game with a chest injury, he seems to be on track to play Sunday. In their Week 7 matchup, Cook ran all over the Lions’ defense. He went for 142 yards on 25 rushes for a staggering 5.7 yards per carry.

Since then, however, Cook has cooled off. He hasn’t broken 100 yards since that game and had less than 30 yards in each of his last two games.

If the Lions can handle Cook, they might have a shot in this game.

Minnesota Vikings v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

Vikings’ weak link

Pass defense

I talked about Rhodes’ struggles, but he’s not the only one. The entire Vikings’ pass defense has been weak this year.

When they played the Lions back in Week 7, the Vikings gave up 352 yards through the air and four touchdowns, all to Marvin Jones.

Obviously David Blough will be a step down from Matthew Stafford this time around, but the Lions should be able to attack the Vikings secondary through the air if they can keep Blough upright – which is no small task against Mike Zimmer’s exotic pass rushes.

Bottom line

David Blough had a really nice game last week against the Bears, but I suspect a road game against the Vikings will be too much for the rookie this week.

Prediction

Lions 13 Vikings 27