Six Points: Vikings vs. Lions
The Minnesota Vikings (3-2) will look to complete the season sweep of the Detroit Lions (1-5) during their visit to Ford Field in Week 7. These two NFC North adversaries first met in Week 2, with the Vikings taking down the Lions 26-16 in front of a home crowd at TCF Bank Stadium.
Will Detroit’s home-field advantage be enough to turn the tables this time, or will Minnesota’s dominance carry over into the second meeting between these two teams?
Here are three keys to the game for both the Vikings and the Lions.
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1. Control time of possession
The Vikings weren’t able to get much of a ground game going against the Chiefs in Week 6 (2.4 yards per carry), but their time of possession was still a healthy 33:07. Minnesota must show a similar commitment to the run versus the Lions this Sunday, even if running back Adrian Peterson is bottled up early in the game. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater hasn’t displayed an arm that can be trusted in a shootout just yet (three touchdowns, four interceptions in 2015).
2. Keep targeting Stefon Diggs
Bridgewater has discovered an immediate connection with rookie wide receiver Stefon Diggs. The past two games have been his first two in the NFL, and the fifth-round draft pick has come away with 13 receptions for 216 yards during that span. Heading into Week 7, Diggs trails Minnesota’s leading receiver, Mike Wallace, by only 40 yards on the season.
3. Put lots of pressure on Matthew Stafford
The Vikings did not have defensive end Everson Griffen (illness), who leads the team with three sacks, for their clash with the Chiefs last Sunday. He is expected to be back this week, so that should give Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford something extra to think about. The Vikings should send linebackers Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks on several blitzes to test Detroit’s offensive line, which is young and still taking shape.
1. Test Minnesota’s deep coverage
The Lions’ offense has come to life, thanks to the connection Matthew Stafford has rekindled with wide receiver Calvin Johnson. Detroit rediscovered the deep ball in last week’s win over the Bears, as Megatron averaged 27.7 yards per reception en route to an NFC Offensive Player of the Week distinction. Stafford should keep looking his way against a Minnesota secondary that has its holes.
2. Trust Ameer Abdullah to get the job done
Running back Ameer Abdullah comes with ball-security concerns (four fumbles in 2015). However, with Joique Bell struggling in his comeback from offseason surgeries, Theo Riddick battling a groin injury and Zach Zenner now on injured reserve, Detroit’s only choice is to roll with the rookie. The Lions must build up Abdullah’s confidence, so he can be trusted to handle the bulk of the offensive touches.
3. Create turnovers against Teddy Bridgewater
The Vikings run a very conservative offense that is not built to play from behind. The Lions can steal momentum early and maintain it throughout the game by intercepting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who threw two picks in his last outing. If Detroit can force Minnesota into a shootout, there should be plenty of opportunities to put pressure on the young passer and force hurried decisions.