Lions Look: Overmatched
The result was expected.
The Detroit Lions, left with a learning quarterback, an anemic run game, and a defense that has been rendered to the point of token resistance, entered US Bank Field in Minneapolis to face the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikes proved to be rude hosts as they defeated the Lions with relative ease with a 20-7 result that was more effective than dominant.
The Vikings remain in hot pursuit of the Green Bay Packers for the NFC North title and the accompanying home playoff game as well as potential first round bye. The Packers remain in the lead as their victory over the Washington Redskins keeps the Vikings a game behind and on the wrong end of a tiebreaker. Their Week 16 matchup in Minnesota proves to be important, as it not only will be pivotal for deciding the division but for conference seeding. And the Vikes are in good form. QB Kirk Cousins had a good day passing (24 of 30 for 242 yards & TD for a 111.4 passer rating) and the defense generated 5 sacks and 2 interceptions, only ceding a garbage time touchdown. In an NFC playoff field that is stacked, winning games with good form is nearly a requirement. And seeing the fact that the Vikings at 9-4 puts them in the six seed for the time being with the Los Angeles Rams (8-5) a game behind with three left to play, it shows that no one can take their foot off the accelerator as we race toward the NFC playoffs.
As for the Lions, they are just trying to stay competitive with impediments in their way. The defense remains ineffective, as the pass rush does not cause disruption in opposing offenses and it leaves a young secondary exposed to big plays. The rushing game struggles at the point of attack on the line, which decreases the playmaking ability of any ball carrier out of the backfield. But combine these ongoing woes with a raw talent in QB David Blough, whose first two games have been against notably tough defenses, and it makes for a Lions squad that is doing all it can to stay in games. Even with a fan base calling for the heads of Matt Patricia and general manager Bob Quinn, there is a silver lining to this dark cloud. As the losses mount (the Lions currently sit a 3-9-1), Detroit's draft position continues to improve, as they sit in fifth behind the likes of Cincinnati, the New York Giants, Miami, and Washington. But seeing the fact that the Lions are finishing the season in last place in the NFC North for a second consecutive year (the first they've done that since 2009-10), Patricia and Quinn will be under immense pressure (if they return) to turn things around quickly in 2020.
Next up for the Lions will be a home date against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, whose Jekyll and Hyde nature makes it very hard to gauge as to what to expect. Will QB Jameis Winston play efficiently and torch the Lions' porous secondary (all due respect to Pro Bowl CB Darius Slay), or will Winston give away the ball with his notorious reckless streak? Should be an interesting game, even with both teams out of playoff contention, either officially or effectively.