- Match-up: Detroit Lions (3-2) @ Minnesota Vikings (2-3)
- Location: TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, Minnesota
- Date: Sunday, October 12th
- Time: 01:00 PM
- TV: FOX
The Detroit Lions travel out to Minnesota to take on the Minnesota Vikings in an NFC North battle. The term “must-win” game is thrown around a lot in sports, but this is a crucial game for both teams early in the season.
For Detroit, don’t expect Calvin Johnson to play. Johnson re-aggravated a high ankle sprain last week against the Buffalo Bills. Jim Caldwell has not ruled him out completely, but Johnson has said repeatedly that that he and the coaching staff need to “be smart” about the injury and not jeopardize his availability later in the season.
Also noteworthy is Reggie Bush possibly being out for the game due to an ankle injury (are these things contagious?). The good news is that Joique Bell and Theo Riddick were full participants in practice and will likely play.
Minnesota will welcome back Teddy Bridgewater to the starting lineup from an ankle injury. Minnesota fans will rejoice in the fact that they will not have to watch Ponder be Ponder, which means Minnesota will be a much more competitive team than they showed last week.
Kyle Rudolph, Chad Greenway, and Brandon Fusco will be out. Rudolph is the biggest loss here as he provides a big target for Bridgewater. Harrison Smith will likely be a game-time decision. If he is unable to play, it would be a big loss for the Vikings defense.
The Vikings defense vs. the Lions offense. It’s no secret that Detroit’s offense has been riding the struggle bus this year and they are coming off an embarrassing performance against the Buffalo Bills. Expect Minnesota’s defense to attack early and put a lot of pressure on Matthew Stafford to make the correct decisions. Stafford has been hit or miss this year so far in his performances against competent defenses. Two weeks ago, he performed well against a good Jets defense. Last week was a different story, as Stafford was sacked six times, threw an interception, and had a quarterback rating of just 78.8.
Minnesota’s defense is coming off a poor performance against the Packers. After getting off to a slow start against Green Bay, the defense settled down and played well, at least until the Vikings offense turned the ball over twice. It then appeared as though the defense gave up in the second half. Expect coach Mike Zimmer to address that this week and for an inspired performance against a limping Lions offense.
Players to Watch
Teddy Bridgewater and Golden Tate.
With Johnson being out for the game, or at the very least being extremely limited, it will be up to Golden Tate to carry the load offensively. Tate has shown the past two weeks that he is more than capable of being the team’s number one wide receiver. The team is 1-1 with Tate being the leading target, and likely would be 2-0 if the Lions had a capable kicker against the Buffalo Bills. This is encouraging for Detroit, as Calvin Johnson will be back soon and the Lions offense could be better off for him being out and forcing Matthew Stafford to work with other wide receivers.
Teddy Bridgewater will return from an ankle sprain and it will be interesting to see how he does against a good Lions defense. Bridgewater impressed in his debut against the Atlanta Falcons, but the Falcons have an atrocious defense this year. Just like the Vikings will pressure the Lions defense early, expect the Lions defense to return the favor to Bridgewater and the Vikings offense. How the rookie handles the pressure will determine who wins this game.
Also, pay attention to Matt Prater and how he handles the pressure of an entire fan-following watching his every move and kick. Prater is being hailed as the Lions savior for their kicking woes, and that pressure can take a kicker off their game. He’s handled the pressure well in the past, let’s see if he can handle the pressure moving forward.
The Vikings take advantage of the Lions, who will still be thinking of last week’s letdown. Bridgewater leads the Vikings to a win in a defensive struggle.
Detroit Lions – 10
Minnesota Vikings – 21