At 5-7, the Detroit Lions have a slim chance at making the playoffs, but you can still feel the hope and the belief from this fanbase surrounding this team. That’s because the Lions are looking like one of the hottest teams in the NFL right now. They’ve won four of their last five games, and Vegas has them favored by two points over the 10-2 Vikings. If their previous matchups are any indication of how this one might turn out, then we should be in for an exciting game.
Despite having one of the best records in the NFL, there aren’t many people that truly believe in this Vikings team. Football Outsiders has them ranked 20th in the NFL in their overall DVOA metric, and they seem to barely manage to scrape together wins over below-average opponents.
This is a very winnable game for the Lions, but they will need to continue to play like the team we’ve seen over the past several weeks, and not the team that would throw away leads late in the game. A big reason why they’ve managed to close these games out recently lies with the defense being more opportunistic and creating turnovers, while also getting strong individual play from a lot of their young players on both sides of the ball. Let’s hope that they can continue that trend.
Today’s Question of the Day is...
Which Lions player will have a big game against the Vikings?
My answer: Alim McNeill.
There are a lot of obvious answers I could go with here... most notably Amon-Ra St. Brown, who has had a huge impact in almost every game he’s played this year. I expect that to continue against the Vikings, who have struggled to keep him in check each game he’s faced them.
But I like McNeill to show out for a couple of reasons. One, he’s playing his best ball right now. Ever since his dominating performance against the New York Giants, McNeill has played with a ton of confidence. He plays a position where you don’t normally see a lot of splash plays, but he’s been finding ways to make a big impact on the game, regardless. Second, McNeill played really well in his first game against the Vikings this year, earning his second-highest defensive grade this season via Pro Football Focus. He also had his second-highest total of QB pressures on the year against them.
McNeill and the rest of the Lions’ defensive line were gashed by the Vikings’ run game in their last meeting, so I also see this as an opportunity and a challenge for the interior line to right a wrong. They’ve certainly done a fantastic job of turning their run defense around over the past several weeks, so I expect to see a much better effort from them against the Vikings’ rushing attack this time around.