The Minnesota Vikings have started the 2022 season with a 1-1 record and now play the Detroit Lions at home on Sunday afternoon. Even though the Lions have been a joke the past few years, they still have a lot of weapons that could make them very dangerous if not taken seriously. Here are the top three keys to how the Vikings can get the W in week 3.
1. Get Others Besides Jefferson going.
Even though Justin Jefferson was held down by Darius Slay in week 2, he is still in the top 5 when it comes to receiving yards. However, the rest of the offense has been fairly ineffective, and it showed last week versus the Eagles. Jefferson was held to only six catches (on 12 targets) for 48 yards. It was the second-lowest total of his career. While Detroit’s corners are not on the same level as Slay, the tape is now out there on how to stop Jefferson. The Eagles kept Jefferson in check by playing Slay man-to-man on Jefferson and safety Marcus Epps helped out with coverage. While Jefferson has feasted on the Lions, as he has more receiving yards (501) against them than any other team, Minnesota needs to prepare for the possibility that they can stop him.
Darius Slay allowed just 7 yards in coverage when defending Justin Jefferson. pic.twitter.com/QB07krFgIT— Victor Williams (@ThePhillyPod) September 20, 2022
Last week, Adam Thielen led the team in receiving with four catches for 52 yards. But these came when the Eagles were up by a lot and in week 1 versus the Packers, Thielen was almost invisible. Dalvin Cook was once thought as one of the top running backs in the league coming into this season, but he hasn’t been as visible as in the past. In week 1, Cook did get a 100-yard game from scrimmage, but he was almost completely silenced versus the Eagles. However, the Lions have given up 5.1 yards per carry and five rushing touchdowns through the first two games of the season. Cook, if used correctly, can easily eat this up and be dominant which in turn will allow for other players such as Thielen or Jefferson to dominate as well.
2. Stop the run
The worst part of the past two weeks has been the run defense. Both Green Bay and Philadelphia ran an average of over six yards/carry. Green Bay had the Aaron Jones/AJ Dillon combination and Philadelphia used Jalen Hurts and their multiple running backs. This is after the Vikings have invested money in Harrison Phillips, Dalvin Tomlinson, Jordan Hicks, and others to supposedly prevent this from happening. Unfortunately, they haven’t done that, and this week will be a tough matchup again for them.
.@DAndreSwift is off to a big start! #OnePride— NFL (@NFL) September 18, 2022
📺: #WASvsDET on FOX
📱: Stream on NFL+ https://t.co/pruM2DzLrP pic.twitter.com/Zk8HNxmCTF
Both D’Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams are great players in their own right putting up very good numbers. Williams has 23 carries for 81 yards and Swift has 20 carries for 200 rushing yards, meaning he’s averaging 10 yards per carry. Up to this game, the Vikings have not been playing to stop the run and have played in a nickel defense for 86% of the time. They also have unfortunately been the only team who has averaged less than 6 men in the box. This needs to change going forward but especially for this game as Swift is perhaps the best true running back that the Vikings have faced so far this season.
3. Get back to the QB
The Vikings defense was phenomenal sacking Aaron Rodgers multiple times in Week 1. But Jalen Hurts tore them apart in every facet of the game on Monday. After that, they rank 30th in yards per attempt allowed (8.5), 18th in passer rating allowed (91.8), but seventh in EPA per dropback (-0.54). Honestly, the secondary has shown that they aren’t as good as they should be. Patrick Peterson is 32 and his best years are behind him. Young corner Cameron Dantzler has been there at times but has not at others. Harrison Smith is out for this game due to concussion protocol and will most likely be replaced by Lewis Cine. Cine s a rookie at the end of the day even with his first-round draft pick hype. Andrew Booth Jr. is also out. In a nutshell, the secondary is vulnerable, and with another top wideout in Amon-Ra St. Brown coming to town, they will have their hands full.
#Vikings defense vs Aaron Rodgers— Luke Inman (@Luke_Spinman) September 12, 2022
– 4 Sacks
– 1 INT
– Forced Fumble
– Two 4th Down Stops
Their 1st round pick will debut next week… #Skol pic.twitter.com/BcIWpbdDcD
However, their defensive front is still a threat. Za’Darius Smith has already logged seven pressures and Danielle Hunter has two sacks this season. The Lions’ offensive line has been decent even with their injuries. However, they have not faced a duo like Smith and Hunter yet. Detroit mainly has been dealing with pocket closures by throwing short passes. So, if Jared Goff is pressured Sunday, it won’t be good for their chances to win. Getting to Goff will allow less time for St. Brown to pull off amazing numbers and help out the vulnerable secondary.