It's a little later than we usually tend to put these up, and that's entirely my fault. But, better late than never, we've exchanged Five Good Questions with the folks from SB Nation's blog for the Detroit Lions, Pride of Detroit. We'll put our answers to their questions up on our site when PoD posts them. In the meantime, here are the questions that we had for them, answered by head blogger Jeremy Reisman.
1) These teams have already gotten together once this season, with the Vikings winning 26-16 at TCF Bank Stadium. How have the Lions changed since then?
I'd like to say that the Lions have completely turned everything around, but one overtime win against a bad Bears team doesn't really convince me of anything. The Lions are starting to get a bit healthier now, and may finally be at full strength on the offensive line. That's key, because the offensive line was really the root of most of the team's offensive struggles.The offensive line played much better against Chicago last week, but again, it's the Bears.
2) Last season, the Lions were among the best defenses in the NFL. Thus far in 2015, they're near the bottom of the league in most of the major defensive categories. Can this all be traced to the loss of Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley, or is there more to it than that?
Much of it, yes, can be traced back to losing so many players on the defensive line (don't forget C.J. Mosely and George Johnson). However, the Lions' backup plan was good on paper. Unfortunately, Haloti Ngata has missed time due to injury and another defensive line addition, Tyrunn Walker, was lost for the year. Throw in the fact that the Lions' best current defensive player, DeAndre Levy, has played a total of one half of football this season, and you're left with a ragtag group compared to 2014.
3) So far this season, the Lions have committed more turnovers than any team in the league, and Matthew Stafford has thrown ten interceptions. Have a lot of the Lions' turnovers been bad luck or bad play, in your opinion?
Fumbles I almost always view as some sort of bad luck, and eight of the Lions 18 turnovers are by fumbles. But the interceptions are no fluke. Stafford has been running for his life all season (as I'm sure you remember from the first matchup). As a result, Stafford has really tried to force plays where there aren't any. I can't put all of the blame on the offensive line, because on some of those plays Stafford simply missed his man, but they aren't making his job any easier.
4) Speaking of Stafford, the Vikings put a lot of hits on him in the Week 2 matchup, even though they only registered one sack. Have the Lions made any changes on the offensive line since then?
Yes, there's been a lot of shuffling along the offensive line since then. Larry Warford, who played in the previous matchup, is now a lot more healthy. He was fresh off an ankle sprain during the last matchup, so you'll see a healthier version this week. Additionally, rookie Laken Tomlinson surpassed veteran Manny Ramirez on the depth chart at the left guard position. Also, the Lions will be starting a different right tackle, with LaAdrian Waddle most likely getting the start over Cornelius Lucas (although it hasn't really mattered who is at that position, lately; they've both played horribly). Finally, you will likely see a lot of six offensive lineman sets, as Detroit's best blocking tight end, Brandon Pettigrew, is out this week.
5) How do you see this Sunday's game playing out?
I think the Lions will come out and be a lot more competitive than Week 2's game. I'm still hesitant to give Detroit any credit for last week's offensive explosion against Chicago, but I still think it's fair to say they're headed in the right direction. I don't think Minnesota's quite as good as their record shows, but I do think they will still be the better team on the field on Sunday. The Lions' offensive woes continue: Vikings 17, Lions 13.
Well, we both agree that the purple and gold will come out on top in this one. Take that however you'd like.