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The Importance of Avoiding the Trap

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MINNESOTA VIKINGS (7-5) GAME #13 DETROIT LIONS (0-12)

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Date: December 7, 2008 Location: Detroit, MI
Time: 12:00 P.M. CST Stadium: Ford Field
TV: FOX
DirecTV Ch. 709
Know Thy Enemy: Pride of Detroit
Gonzo's Prediction: Vikings 31, Lions 14
Final Score: Vikings 20, Lions 16

Yes, folks, this game falls under the heading of the classic "trap game." A team that's hot and should win, looking at a game next week on the road against a quality opponent heading out on the road to take on a team that nobody likes and that just got slaughtered in their own building on Thanksgiving Day. . .a game in which they appeared to basically just give up.

Pacifist Viking said it very well the other day in his post looking forward to this afternoon's matchup. According to the good folks at Football Outsiders, the Lions are currently fielding what might be the worst defense in NFL history. Their DVOA is the worst of any team since they started tracking that statistic (and to read what that entails, go check out their site). They currently rank 32nd in points allowed, 31st in points allowed, 32nd in net pass yards allowed, 32nd in rush yards allowed, 32nd in TD runs allowed, and 32nd in yards/carry allowed. They have all of two interceptions on the season (one of which, yes, did come against Minnesota), and they allow their opponents to complete passes at a 66.3% clip.

Yes, their defense turned it up a notch at the earlier game at the Metrodome this year. Since then, the Lions haven't allowed fewer than 25 points, and didn't allow less than 27 in a game during the entire month of November (27 to Chicago, 38 to Jacksonville, 31 to Carolina, 38 to Tampa Bay, and 47 to Tennessee). While their defense was giving up 36.2 points/game last month, their offense was scoring at a clip of 17.8 points/game.

Meanwhile, the Vikings' offense has sort of found itself over the past few weeks. Did you know that since the last time the Vikings played the Lions, Minnesota has only scored fewer than 28 points once in the subsequent six games (their 19-13 loss to Tampa Bay)? Since the Vikings squeaked by at the Metrodome, the offense has been scoring at a rate of 29 points/game while allowing 23.5 points/game. And, yes, both of those numbers would be lower if you take out the shootout in Chicago back in Week 7 (which came just before the bye week). . .they'd fall to 26.6 and 18.6, respectively. Minnesota has also won 7 of its last 10 games after starting out 0-2.

Do you think the Lions can hold Minnesota to 12 points again? I don't.

Think that Adrian Peterson is going to fumble twice in the red zone again? I don't.

Think that the Lions' rush defense is going to stop. . .or even slow down. . .Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor this afternoon? I don't.

Think that Daunte Culpepper, who has been getting sacked at a rate of once per 8.3 dropbacks, is going to be able to put together the kind of game he'll need for Detroit to win today with Jared Allen's foot up his ass all afternoon? I don't.

A lot of "experts" are saying that this is Detroit's last chance for a victory in 2008 to avoid going 0-16. I think that a lot of the "experts" are going to be disappointed once the final gun sounds. The Lions aren't winning this one, either. Maybe the "experts" should circle Detroit's Week 17 game to find their best chance at a victory this season.

Alright, I'm confident. Let's hope the Beloved Purple get out there this afternoon and do what they should do.

SKOLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL VIKINGS!!!!