As usual, find the answers from the web’s best Lions bloggers at the Church of Schwartz.
1. Explain how you’d defend the Vikes this upcoming week.
There are a lot more ways to defend the Vikings than there were the Saints. Best idea I’ve heard is to assign one LB to shadow AP every play. At the same time, bring at least one extra rusher at Favre (preferably in a run-blitz) every down. Harvin is a dangerous threat, but Favre isn’t the Favre of 5 years ago. Put the game on his back, and blitz him to rattle him. He isn’t settled into his hot reads yet, and the Vikings aren’t loaded with the kind of talent at WR that the Saints are. Take away AP and make Favre beat you. With Buchanaon (hopefully) back, that will be a boost to the secondary as he is definitely a step up from Eric King, who was brutalized by Brees for no less than a half dozen significant plays last week on his way to proving beyond a doubt King is NOT an NFL starting CB. The Lions, for whatever reason, have always done well keeping AP in check — especially at Ford Field. Favre doesn’t have the patience of Brees, and will make more mistakes.
If the defense can force Favre to feel the game is on his shoulders to win, he will start pushing to make plays — if the defense takes advantage like it did last week at New Orleans, then they can keep the Lions in the game. Minnesota may have the “Williams Wall” but dump-off screens to Kevin Smith and Pettigrew underneath, with a dose of maybe Felton/Smith up the gut, and Brown on the edge can wear them down. Get them chasing ball catchers down on the short routes and they will get gassed pretty quickly — when Minny rests them, or gives them help underneath, that will open up CJ and the play-action game deep as well as help with the run game.
The Vikings are counting on running out the clock with AP and stopping the opposing team with the Williams wall to win the game — turn it into a shootout and lock-out AP and the tide could favor Detroit. It’s a big IF…
The key will be that LB to shadow AP so he never gets “lost” as they move him around, and so that he isn’t getting any one-on-one matchups with guys in the secondary when he has momentum. Put it on Favre, and hope he pushes into mistakes…and run blitz the “Millen” out of them.
2. How do you fix the Lions inability to run the ball in short yardage situations? New personnel packages or just play better?
Just play better. You don’t get much more jumbo than Heller, Pettigrew, Terelle Smith and Jerome Felton with the rock. The Line especially just needs to man-up and blow those guys off the ball into last season. They also need to get Pettigrew more involved in the passing game versus Heller — Heller dropped two good passes for first downs that Pettigrew likely would have caught. Even one more first down keeps a drive alive, and the defense off the field…
3. What’s your projected score for Vikes – Lions?
Lets go 27-24 Lions over Vikings in a hard fought contest.