A Northern Affair

NFC Game Of The Week

Detroit Lions (2-1) at Minnesota Vikings (2-1)

Lions: I took a lot away from their game against the Falcons on Sunday. One, they have an extremely opportunistic defense and they can depend on that side of the football to do a thing or two when they need it and they intercepted Matt Ryan a total of three times on Sunday in that game. This is the league MVP that we’re talking about and they were able to get those interceptions. After the first one was thrown, I was shocked, but three? There was no way I saw that coming. Despite the heartbreaking loss in week three, they are tied for first place in the NFC North with the Packers and Vikings with a 2-1 record and their offense maybe scarier now than it was last year in its first year without Megatron because they’ve been without him for a full season and teams still don’t know who Stafford will target and that’s always a good thing to keep defenses guessing. The Lions offense through the first three weeks has been one of the best in the league. They average 28 points per game and they have the ability to simply drive the football down the field and they do it at their own pace. If Stafford can keep playing at this level, he’ll be an MVP candidate once again and the Lions will keep winning games and could end up winning their first division title in franchise history. They face an all too familiar group on Sunday on the road as they look to bounce back and get back in the win column.

Vikings: As much as I want to hype them up and say they’re the real deal, I just can’t. Last year, they got off to such a strong start, a 5-0 start to be exact and they looked to be a serious contender in the NFC. Then, reality set in and they struggled the entire second half of the season to close the season out. They’re an average team at best with what they have now, what makes the difference is a healthy Teddy Bridgewater and with number five under center and taking snaps, this is a dark horse Super Bowl contender. You have a much better chance at winning the division with him then a Sam Bradford and Case Keenum and that’s not me being disrespectful at all but you saw how much they struggled down the stretch. This is one of the best defensive teams in all of the league right now and I’m not surprised one bit because Mike Zimmer has been a defensive guy his entire coaching career and they’re just taking after their head coach. They can beat you with pure athleticism all over and they have three guys that are somewhat unknown. Xavier Rhodes has established himself as a true number one corner, Harrison Smith is the heart and soul of the defense and Everson Griffen is a true force up front and their best runner stopper. The Vikings handled business on Sunday against Tampa and they’ll look to keep winning against the Lions.

Lions Player To Watch: Glover Quin– He has such a tremendous nose for the football. He picked off Matt Ryan once on Sunday and he’s one of the better safeties in football that you don’t hear much about. He’s fast, he roams all over the secondary like a center fielder, he can hit and he can cover.

Vikings Player To Watch: Kyle Rudolph– In their last game, he only caught one pass. Getting him involved within the offense will do wonders for whoever is playing quarterback for the Vikings on Sunday. Use him on screens, curl routes over the middle and especially in the Red Zone.

Final Analysis: They played two thrilling games last year. One went to overtime and Golden Tate made one of the best acrobatic catches and found some way to stay in bounds to score and last Thanksgiving, the Lions actually came back and beat the Vikings to take the season series. The Lions have the edge offensively in this one. However, when they get shut down, they depend on one phase of the game to help them and that won’t always work. The Vikings have such an impressive mix of pass rush, a total elite defense and an offense that’s been controlling games at their own pace along with Dalvin Cook who’s come in and really silenced the doubters.

Prediction: Vikings 31 Lions 17