The Lions’ run defense has been a tale of two halves through their first seven games of the 2020 season. They hovered near the bottom of the league through their first four games, getting gashed anytime a back touched the ball. Since the bye week, however, the Lions run defense has found a new identity.
After a traumatically poor showing by the whole Detroit Lions team against the Colts in Week 8, you may be thinking it was a fluke. After all, every other Colts highlight involved Nyheim Hines torching the defense and ended with him doing a flip in the end zone. It’s important to note that the bulk of Hines’ production came on passes, however. The Lions actually did a phenomenal job in shutting down a very respectable running back in Jonathan Taylor, not to mention against a stellar Colts offensive line.
Bold prediction of the week: Lions defense bottles up Dalvin Cook, holds him to <70 rushing yards
Similar to the Lions’ run defense, Dalvin Cook had an iffy start to the season. In his first two games, Cook averaged 4.36 yards per carry and rushed for a total of 115 yards. Since then, however, the Vikings have #LetDalvinCook (see what I did there?) and he has upped his performance to 5.61 yards per carry and averaged 134 rushing yards per game.
While the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Atlanta Falcons were solid tests on offense for the Lions’ run defense, they passed the true litmus test in shutting down the Colts’ ground game last week. That bodes well for Sunday. Whether that leads to the Vikings just picking on the Lions through the air—similar to what the Colts did with Nyheim Hines—is still to be determined. In the meantime, though, the Lions run defense faces arguably their toughest test in Dalvin Cook and the Vikings.