In just over 48 hours, the 0-4 Lions limp into US Bank Stadium to take on the 1-3 Vikings. While the 120th all-time meeting between the two longtime division rivals isn’t exactly Game of the Week material, there are still plenty of interesting storylines to discuss before Sunday’s kickoff.
Mike Payton of Pride of Detroit was kind enough to provide more insight about how the latest Lions rebuild has gone thus far, the current state of the squad, and what to watch for on Sunday. Our Q&A is below; click here to check out my answers for his Vikings questions over at POD.
1. The Dan Campbell era in Detroit hasn’t seen a lot of success yet, but it has certainly been entertaining. How is he generally received among Lions fans? Does it seem like he’s getting buy-in with the players so far?
I think the Lions are right on schedule with the Campbell era. Things are not going well, but nobody expected them to. The Lions are essentially treating this season like an 18 week preseason. They’re sifting out which players are going to be here for the long term and planning to move on from just about everyone else. Whether they’re a good team or not, this team won’t look anything like the current team in 2023.
As for the buy in, players seem to be all in with Campbell. Fans are pretty much there as well. There’s a lot of love in Detroit for Campbell’s honesty. Especially when its about players that aren’t playing well.
2. Let’s talk about the Matthew Stafford/Jared Goff trade. How are Lions fans handling Stafford’s early success in LA? Are they happy for Stafford because he’s finally showing the rest of the league what you knew he was capable of, or are they treating Stafford like an ex that hired a personal trainer immediately after you broke up? Conversely, is Goff simply a stopgap quarterback while the team rebuilds, or has he shown enough to be considered part of the rebuilding process going forward?
Lions fans are happy for Matthew Stafford. I personally hope the Rams win it all this year. As for Goff, this isn’t going well at all. Goff’s issues are highlighted with very bright lights in the Lions offense. Early on it seemed like Goff was going to be the Lions guy going forward, but he looking more and more like a stop gap every day. He has confidence issues and is playing more conservative than I’ve ever seen a quarterback play.
3. The Lions have already been ravaged by injuries to key players this season, with Romeo Okwara and Frank Ragnow joining Jeff Okudah on the Injured Reserve this week. Which player’s absence will be felt the most on Sunday?
The injury list is even longer now. Penei Sewell is now not practicing. So with the addition of Sewell and Taylor Decker already gone as well, Frank Ragnow was all this offensive line had. Going into this game, I can’t tell you what this offensive line is going to look like, but it’s going to be bad for Jared Goff and just about everyone else.
4. Give us one player on offense and one player on defense that Vikings fans may not be that familiar with, but could have a big impact on the outcome of Sunday’s game.
Lions receiver Quintez Cephus has shown that he can be a threat in the deep passing game. But with the Lions offensive line likely to be a patchwork group, Goff may not have any time to throw deep. On defense I have to go with rookie lineman Alim McNeil. He’s played fairly well this season and looks like a guy that’s going to be a key piece in the future.
5. Prediction time! Do the Lions score the upset and get their first win of 2021, or will the Vikings win their eighth straight game over Detroit?
There is no way the Lions win this game. The Vikings are going to beat this team up pretty badly. I expect the Vikings to win 35-10. The Vikings defense will force multiple turnovers and sack Goff five or more times.
So there you have it—not exactly a ton of hope for the present in Detroit, but there seems to be some optimism for the future. Thanks again to Mike for taking the time to answer our questions.
Stay tuned for more before the Week 5 matchup kicks off at noon on Sunday.