Minnesota Vikings vs Detroit Lions: 5 keys to victory in week 9

What will the struggling Minnesota Vikings need to do in order to defeat the Detroit Lions during their week 9 matchup on Sunday, November 6, 2016?

Coming off a humiliating Monday Night Football loss to the Chicago Bears and beat down by the Philadelphia Eagles, the Minnesota Vikings will look to get back on track against the Detroit Lions during week 9.

The game will take place on Sunday, November 6, 2016 and pit two of the stronger teams in the NFC against each other in a division matchup which could have major ramifications down the road.

Sitting at 5-2, the Minnesota Vikings have some big competition on their heels. The Green Bay Packers are closing in with a 4-3 record and right behind them at 4-4 is the Detroit Lions. Meanwhile, the 2-win Bears seem to be turning things around at just the right time.

So, with how important this game is for the Vikings and the division closing in, let’s take a look 5 ways Minnesota can help themselves to come away with a win on Sunday. And the first one is, of course, the most obvious.

Oct 18, 2015; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings offensive lineman T.J. Clemmings (68) against the Kansas City Chiefs at TCF Bank Stadium. The Vikings defeated the Chiefs 16-10. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 18, 2015; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings offensive lineman T.J. Clemmings (68) against the Kansas City Chiefs at TCF Bank Stadium. The Vikings defeated the Chiefs 16-10. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Develop new protection schemes

After the Philadelphia Eagles showed teams the best way to attack the Vikings quarterback, the Chicago Bears were able to carry out a similar strategy to make quarterback Sam Bradford’s day a living hell.

The Vikings will need to give their offensive tackles some help. Whether that means keeping running backs or tight ends in to help out, it is essential that the new look offense under Pat Shurmur will need to make better efforts when it comes to quarterback protection.

That also means fewer long drops and plays which take longer time to develop. Slants, screens, anything that is necessary in order to keep the passing game afloat will be essential in establishing some sort of offense after two disappointing weeks.

Detroit has 18 sacks on the season, led by defensive tackle Kerry Hyder who has 5. While that may not seem like much through 8 games, the Lions should be drooling at a chance to pounce on Bradford.

Sep 18, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) drops back to pass during the third quarter against the Tennessee Titans at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Sep 18, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) drops back to pass during the third quarter against the Tennessee Titans at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Don’t get locked in

There was a time when if you could take away Calvin Johnson, that the Detroit Lions offense would completely crumble. Now, with Megatron retired, quarterback Matt Stafford is doing things he hasn’t in the past.

Stafford is spreading the ball around like never before. According to TeamRankings.com, Golden Tate has been thrown to 62 times, Marvin Jones 59 times, Anquan Boldin 44 times, and Theo Riddick 43 times. With four different pass catchers having over 40 targets and Eric Ebron almost there at 35, the passing attack of the Lions can look anywhere for yards.

That means the defense can’t get locked in when in coverage. They have to respect each individual player running routes and account for the in an equal fashion. With Andrew Sendejo still limited in practice due to an ankle injury that caused him to miss last week’s game, the secondary will need to step up in a big way.

Thankfully, there is a great mixture of youth and experience among the defensive backs of the Minnesota Vikings, but they will have their hands full with this complicated Lions offense.

Dec 20, 2015; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Jerick McKinnon (31) and running back Matt Asiata (44) run onto the field before the game against the Chicago Bears at TCF Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Dec 20, 2015; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Jerick McKinnon (31) and running back Matt Asiata (44) run onto the field before the game against the Chicago Bears at TCF Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Establish the run

Every single week one of these ‘5 keys to success’ articles come out, this is one of the points. And it will continue to be a point until the Vikings stop being an absolute embarrassment in the running game.

Minnesota is currently averaging 2.7 yards per carry, which is the absolute worst in the NFL. Not only that, but they’re a full half yard per carry behind the second worst team, making the competition not even close for who the most dismal team on the ground is. Add in that they have the fewest first downs in the league while running, and you have an absolute mess.

Thankfully, Detroit is struggling a bit against the run. Tied for 21st in the league and giving up an average of 4.4 yards per carry, the Lions appear to be susceptible in that area until it is realized that they have only allowed 3 rushing touchdowns this season.

Establishing the run will be important even if the Vikings need to finish their drives through the air, but getting to the red zone will likely rely on the ability to move the ball on the ground on a more regular basis.

Sep 18, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs (14) catches a touchdown pass past Green Bay Packers cornerback Damarious Randall (23) in the third quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. The Vikings win 17-14. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Sep 18, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs (14) catches a touchdown pass past Green Bay Packers cornerback Damarious Randall (23) in the third quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. The Vikings win 17-14. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Don’t be afraid to take shots

While the Lions are allowing the fewest rushing touchdowns in the league so far, they are also tied for allowing the most passing scores.

Through 8 games, the Lions have let 19 touchdowns be tossed on their watch, and allow a quarterback rating of 113.7 to opposing passers and a league high 73.6% completion rate as well.

Detroit also only has 4 interceptions on the seasons, showing they haven’t been able to take advantage of opportunities to this point. Their best defensive back, Darius Slay, has returned to practice, but that is no guarantee that he will play. If he sits, that is an even bigger reason to attack the secondary.

If the Vikings want to succeed offensively, they will need to challenge the Detroit secondary and make them beat the Minnesota wide receivers. If Bradford can find the time to survey the field, there is little doubt he can take advantage of this situation.

Oct 3, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings fans cheer on their team against the New York Giants at U.S. Bank Stadium. The Vikings won 24-10. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 3, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings fans cheer on their team against the New York Giants at U.S. Bank Stadium. The Vikings won 24-10. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Make it LOUD

U.S. Bank Stadium is built to give the Minnesota Vikings one of the biggest home field advantages in the National Football League.

Considering the Vikings are coming off back-to-back losses, just lost their offensive coordinator, and have serious offensive line issues, fans may be a little hesitant to get very rowdy and loud when Detroit is on offense.

Fans need to understand that their noise at the stadium is a huge help to the defense. Not only can they help to draw false start penalties, but it makes it difficult to make adjustments at the line of scrimmage and even call plays in the huddle.

Since the crowd knows they can play a role in the outcome of the game, it is paramount that they be silent on offense and deafeningly loud on defense.

You can catch the Minnesota Vikings hosting the Detroit Lions during week 9 of the NFL season on Sunday, November 6, 2016. It is important that the Vikings get back on track if they want to win the division and return to the playoffs, and beating Detroit at home would be a great way to do just that!

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