Minnesota Vikings vs. Detroit Lions, 12-23-18: In-game report

The Vikings used an old formula to stay in the NFC playoff picture and defeat the Lions on the road.  Minnesota relied on a turnover- free game and a solid defensive effort to beat Detroit, 27-9. DraftNasty’s Troy Jefferson gives his impressions in this in-game report:

Lions receiving weapons

In 2014, the Lions featured two 1,000-yard receivers in former wideouts Golden Tate III and Calvin Johnson.

The Lions traded away Golden Tate and now lack proven weapons on the outside.  Detroit tried to mask its deficiencies with conservative third down play calling that often featured runs and screens on 3rd and long, but those weren’t effective against a stout Vikings defense.  Kenny Golladay has become a contributor, catching 70 passes for 1,063 yards and five touchdowns on the season.  However, the Vikings began to key in on him and roll coverage his way as he posted just six catches for 58 yards on 15 targets.  Detroit has had its issues with drafting receivers in the past, but the team is in desperate need for playmakers on the outside. 

Vikings offensive gameplan

The formula against the Bears on Sunday will be simple for the Vikings: run the ball and don’t turn it over.  Despite his 29:10 touchdown-to-interception ratio, Cousins has struggled against teams with winning records in his career and this year has been no different.  Last week, the Vikings fired offensive coordinator John DeFilippo before his first season as coordinator could even come to an end.  Quarterbacks coach Kevin Stefanski has taken over and he’s been with the team since the mid-2000s, which means he knows traditionally the Vikings bread has been buttered with its run game. Against the Lions, Dalvin Cook carried the ball 16 times for 73 yards and was the go-to man on 3rd and shorts.   Cook and Latavius Murray should both see 10-to-15 carries apiece and Stefanski will probably opt to play a conservative field position game against the stingy Bears defensive front seven.

Minnesota defense 

The Chicago Bears have dominated headlines in the NFC North but the Vikings still have a defense that can be counted upon. Their problem has been at times they have been forced to play perfect football where as in Chicago there’s a little bit more margin for error.  On the season, the Vikings rank in the top ten in passing yards allowed per game, points against and total yards allowed per game.  They also rank 11th in rushing yards allowed per game.  Danielle Hunter, Everson Griffen, Sheldon Richardson and Tom Johnson have combined to form their own Purple People Eaters group, totaling 29 sacks.  The front end and back end complement each other well in Minnesota and this defense is still a unit to be reckoned with week-to-week. 

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