By Michael Ferro
Few would have predicted that the Minnesota Vikings would have suffered like they did during their Monday night national stage match up with the Chicago Bears, but suffer they did. The Vikings have been stellar this year through their first six games with one of the best defenses in the league. Watching the newly returned Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler and the (then) 1-5 Bears offense cut through the Vikings like a hot knife through butter was a Halloween shock, to be sure.
Not only did the Vikings defense fail, but the offense, led by QB Sam Bradford also failed to get rolling. Detroit suffered an unwelcome setback with their 20-13 loss in Houston, but perhaps the Lions can find a way to capitalize on a weakened Vikings in Minnesota come this Sunday.
Vikings Season Record 5-2
Minnesota has been hot this year, going 5-1 before heading into Chicago. Though they struggled against the Bears on the Monday night stage, but that’s not reason alone to discount how effective they have been as a team this season. The loss in the Windy City was a bad one for the Vikings, but it shouldn’t give Detroit fans an excess of confidence.
On numerous occasions this year, Minnesota has shut down great offenses, and odds are they will re-calibrate and be ready to take on the Lions at home. If Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford can find his groove again, he could likely find a way to pick apart the Vikings, too.
Vikings on Offense
Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford put up decent numbers in Chicago, but the offense as a whole failed to get the momentum going they needed to beat a struggling Bears team. A lot of the wounds suffered by Minnesota were self-inflicted, including two turnovers, but they did find some progress towards the end of the game. Bradford found wide receiver Stefon Diggs for a big 25-yard touchdown pass in the final few minutes and connected with the receiver for a total of eight catches for 76 yards.
Vikings on Defense
The main reason that the Vikings were near the top of the NFL heading into week eight was their defense. Put simply, they looked like the Purple People Eaters of old, creating turnovers and shutting down offenses left and right. Despite their struggles this past Monday against the Bears, the Vikings still have the weapons in place to put the train right back on the tracks and get moving again in the right direction.
Matthew Stafford has the talent to effectively cut apart a Minnesota defense, but he struggled at times during the Houston game. If he has his full complement of receivers and running backs, Stafford stands a decent chance of finding a weakness just like a 1-5 Chicago team was able to.
Players to Watch: WR Stefon Diggs and QB Sam Bradford
Other than the obvious, which is to keep an eye on the whole Vikings defense, quarterback Sam Bradford and wide receiver Stefon Diggs found quite a groove despite the loss on Monday night. Bradford connected with Diggs eight times for 76 yards and a touchdown. Knowing the spotty Detroit secondary, this could prove to be a difficult match up for the Lions to effectively cover. This would be especially true if the Lions offense is kept off the field by a resurgent and angry Vikings defense.
Analysts thought that Minnesota would handle Chicago rather easily, just like many predicted a surging Detroit team would beat a shell-shocked Houston team, but they were wrong on both counts. Both the Lions and Vikings have each played Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde this season, so it’s hard to predict just which team will show up on Sunday.
One thing is sure, though, if the dominant Vikings defense returns and the Lions’ sleek offense returns with Stafford hitting his marks, then it’s sure to be a great game. In the end, one of these two factors will win the game for the more aggressive team.
Post Author: Michael Ferro. Born and bred in Detroit, Michael A. Ferro was awarded the Jim Cash Creative Writing Award and received a degree in Creative Writing from Michigan State University. He now resides in rural Ann Arbor. Additional writing can be found at AXS.com and on twitter @MichaelFerro.