By Mike Marek
Coming into the game on Sunday, many local and national pundits were perplexed as to why a 5-7 Lions team would be favored to win against a 10-2 Vikings team that didn’t look like it was going to lose any division games this year.
Well, it turns out that Las Vegas was right, a desperate Lions team was able to defend their home turf by pulling out all the stops. The Lions managed to convert a fake punt and succeeded on multiple attempts to go for it on fourth down. They also took advantage of some of the Vikings’ aggressiveness by capitalizing on short-field opportunities caused by bad decision making. The result was that the Lions kept their playoff hopes alive and the Vikings were left scratching their heads trying to decide if the haters are right: Maybe they aren’t for real.
So, what does this mean for the Vikings going forward? It seems like two schools of thought exist. The Vikings may have just been proven to be the “frauds” that many on the national scene or calling them, or this may just be a blip on the radar as they forge their path to the playoffs. My guess is that it’s something in between.
The Vikings defense once again proved to be a major issue. The secondary specifically can’t seem to stop even the most mundane quarterback and wide receiving combos. They also have been struggling to develop even a minute pass rush. Someone needs to call up Ed Donatell and let him know that his lack of blitzing isn’t preventing the big play down field, so he might as well and tee one up and at least hit the quarterback.
The offense showed some signs of life, especially with Justin Jefferson once again rewriting the Vikings record books with the most receiving yards in a game. The frustration comes from the rushing game. The Lions managed to shut down Dalvin Cook, leaving the Vikings consistently in third and long situations, causing the need for heroics (or eventually a punt) by the Vikings.
At the end of the day, the Vikings are a 10-3 squad. They may have cobbled those 10 wins together by mostly winning a series of one-score games. Within those games they showed a grit and will to win; however, they also showed that they weren’t much better than most of their opponents. In some situations, they have gotten lucky (see the Bills game) and in others the score was closer than it was.
This Saturday, the Colts are coming into town. The Vikings have had historically bad luck playing the Colts in the past. The Colts currently own a 18-7-1 record against the purple all-time. This time around they also have the tailwind of coming off their bye week. Being led by bell-cow back Jonathan Taylor, they should prove to be no easy test of the Vikings as they once again work to close out their first NFC North title since 2017.