The Minnesota Vikings are riding at 4-2 and look to get a fresh start against a divisional opponent. Minnesota heads to the Motor City to play the Detroit Lions (2-2-1). The Vikings will need to continue whatever momentum Minnesota gained over the past two weeks to secure a win in a pivotal divisional match-up.
Here’s three keys to Sunday’s victory:
Establish the run game early
Running back Dalvin Cook will have the perfect opportunity to continue his success against a shaky Lions rush defense. Detroit’s defense is ranked 27th for rushing yards allowed. The Lions have forfeited over 100 yards rushing in every game this season.
Cook is off to a nice start despite the two games against the Chicago Bears and Philadelphia Eagles where he rushed for a combined 76 yards off of 30 carries. He managed to rush for over 100 yards in the other four games. Cook has only played three games against the Lions, unfortunately he hasn’t been able to break the 100-yard threshold...Yet.
I’m not saying there should be a shared workload, but rookie Alexander Mattison has shown that he can play at the next level. He’s a great depth guy to have behind Cook when he needs a rest. If the game is in favor of Minnesota in the fourth quarter, Mattison has well earned the right to take over the workload. He’s rushed for 252 yards off of 48 carries, an average of 5.3 yards per carry.
The Minnesota defense has been stout so far this season. So why not continue the success and have a hay day against Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford. If the defense can just pressure Stafford enough to where he can’t find a rhythm, that will not only help the defense, but take some pressure off Minnesota’s offense.
The Vikings defense is ranked fifth for yards allowed and sixth for points allowed. Defensive end Danielle Hunter leads the team with six sacks and Everson Griffen is second with three. Griffen leads the team with 11 quarterback hits, while Hunter has 10.
Stafford has completed 106 passes off of 173 attempts for 1,387 and nine touchdowns. He’s only thrown two interceptions through five games. Stafford’s thrown for over 4,000 yards, all of which resulted in 23 touchdowns and seven interceptions in his 18 games against the Vikings defense.
Cousins needs to keep slingin’ it
There will be a lot of success with Minnesota’s passing game if the run game gets going. Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins’ really turned his game around after that horrendous match-up against the Chicago Bears in week four. Cousins has thrown the ball for more than 300 yards in both of his last two games, along with throwing six touchdowns and only one interception.
Cousins threw for 333 yards, four touchdowns and an interception during the 38-20 win against the Philadelphia Eagles. Stefon Diggs became a main target last week, and well, he had quite the day. Diggs recorded 167 yards off of seven receptions, snagging three touchdowns in the process.
This leads to new avenues for Cousins, he now has his two-top wide receivers hot and ready. While having tight ends Kyle Rudolph and Irv Smith Jr. also in the mix, the receiving game can be endless...As long as Cousins stays on his feet.
As always, SKOL!