The Vikings face the Detroit Lions this week, and we welcome our friends from our sister site Pride of Detroit over to answer this week’s Five Good Questions segment. Today, staff writer Mike Payton joins us. Mike is NOT the son of Walter Payton, but probably still has a pretty cool Dad anyway, and Mike’s good people, professional football team rooting interest aside. Give him a nice round of applause, sit up straight, and respect the process as he gives great answers to my five really bad questions. Also, you can find him on the Perpetual Outrage Machine by using the Twitter handle @POD_Payton, and you can check out my terrible answers to his really good questions right here.
DN: The Lions are in year 2 of Matt Patricia. Last year was a 6-10 disappointment, and there was grumbling from ‘unnamed sources’ about Patricia’s approach. Fast forward to now, and it seems like the players are buying in to what he’s selling. Was there a specific turning point, or has it just taken time for the players to get used to Patricia’s system?
POD: I think the big difference this year is that Patricia has angled the team and it’s roster into more of his style. The Players that have come over have played for Patricia for the most part and they’ve drastically helped the rest of the team buy into Patricia’s approach. There’s a new feel in the locker room right now. This team seems to actually believe in itself and I know it sounds weird, but I can’t say I’ve ever seen that before.
DN: You guys got flat out screwed against the Packers, and the Lions have a history of getting hosed by the refs. How does this team respond in the next game--do they have kind of a hangover, or are they pretty good at putting it behind them and focusing on the opponent at hand?
POD: This is where that change in the culture I mentioned before comes into effect. In the past the Lions folded completely and it defined the rest of their season. This team seems equally pissed off and determined at the same time. It’s one of those things where if they can channel it into their play on the field, I’m actually afraid of how good they could be. But all of that remains to be seen. How the Lions come out and play on Sunday will answer that question.
DN: What’s the most favorable matchup the Lions have on offense facing the Vikings defense, and on defense facing the Vikings offense, and why?
POD: It’s gotta be the Lions receivers vs the Vikings corners. Xavier Rhodes is having a rough season right now and has had trouble against the Lions in the past. Kenny Golladay is having a really good season right now and the on top of that, the Lions are utilizing every single weapon they have in the pass game. I think the Vikings secondary is going to struggle if the their defense can’t get to Matthew Stafford against an offensive line that’s allowed just 10 sacks this season. A number that’s near the bottom of the league when it comes to starting quarterbacks.
DN: I’m just not sure what to make of the Lions. Every year I say ‘they are either going to be 6-10 or 10-6’. They had that really bad tie to the Cardinals to start the season, won impressively in Philly, damn near beat the Chiefs, and then...yeah, the Lambeau Screwjob. So, are the Lions a playoff team this year?
POD: I believe they are. This team is an ill timed timeout, a screw job and a stupid fumble situation away from being 5-0. As I mentioned above, the culture around the team has seemingly changed for the better and there’s still a lot of football left to be played and the Lions have one of the easier remaining strengths of schedule. There’s definitely a world where the Lions can still not only make the playoffs, but win the division too. Of course there’s also a world where the wheels fall off and the Lions miss the playoffs and we wonder how long Patrica will be there.
DN: As you typed out these questions and answers, were you sitting up straight, and more importantly, did you respect the process? Also, who wins, and why?
POD: Actually I was on the couch laying down and watching Big Mouth on Netflix out of my left eye while writing this out of my right eye.
I’m sure some will claim I’m a homer, but I’m taking the Lions here for multiple reasons. The first being that the Lions are at home where the stadium will be full of pissed off and loud fans cheering for a pissed off football team that wants to make someone pay. The other reasons are more statistical.
The Lions have faced Patrick Mahomes, Aaron Rodgers, Phillip Rivers, Carson Wentz and Kyler Murray and they have yet to allow a passer rating higher than 95. Additionally the Lions secondary is allowing a cumulative completion percentage of just 56.6%. No disrespect to Kirk Cousins, but he’s just not on the level of any of those guys outside of Murray. The Lions will get beat up by Dalvin Cook. But I don’t think it will be enough.
Thanks again, Mike, and here’s to a good game on Sunday with no major injuries.