Vikings vs. Lions Preview: Three Keys to Victory

Will Ragatz

Another Sunday brings another important game for the Vikings. They're all important, of course, but this game has some extra meaning because it's the last chance for the Vikings to win a divisional game on the road.

According to ESPN's Football Power Index, there's a 24 percent difference in the Vikings' playoff odds if they win this game versus if they lose it. That's the third-largest swing for any NFC team in Week 7.

Here's a rundown of all the preview content at Viking Maven this week. Make sure to check out any stories you may have missed.

Preview video:

Harrison Smith on the Lions offense, playing loose, and not getting too high or too low throughout the season:

Lastly, here are three keys to victory for the Vikings:

1. Contain Detroit's outside receivers

The Lions' two biggest threats for big plays on offense are outside WRs Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones. Both have great size – Golladay is 6'4", Jones 6'2" – and are excellent at making contested catches. Stafford won't be shy to give them chances to make plays, as he is one of the most aggressive tight-window passers in the NFL.

This will be a great test for the Vikings secondary. Xavier Rhodes and Trae Waynes have played well at times and struggled at others, and they'll need to be at their best against Detroit's talented duo. Safeties Harrison Smith and Anthony Harris continuing their elite play would be helpful as well.

2. Get the running game going early

Defensively, Detroit's strength is its secondary. The Lions have an outstanding top corner in Darius Slay, a breakout slot corner in Justin Coleman and a playmaking safety in Tracy Walker. They're not going to pressure Cousins much, instead choosing to drop 7 or 8 players into coverage.

The Lions aren't as good against the run, so expect the Vikings to hand the ball to Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison with regularity. If the offensive line can create running lanes for the two talented backs, the Lions may have to start bringing more defenders into the box, which would open things up for deep shots off of play-action.

3. Get a lead and don't let up

The Vikings still have yet to come from behind in any of their four victories this season. They'll have to do that at some point, but why start now? If the Vikings can grab an early lead, they'll be able to continue running the ball and quiet the Ford Field crowd.

And if they do get that lead, they need to add to it. Don't let this be a one-score game late, because Stafford seems to always find a way to win those games.

My prediction: Lions 23, Vikings 17

Last week, I picked the Eagles to win a low-scoring game, and could not have been more wrong, so take this with a grain of salt. I just have a bad feeling about this game. The Lions are fired up after being robbed of a win last week, and Stafford seems to regularly find ways to win close games against the Vikings. The Lions' underrated secondary will intercept Kirk Cousins twice in a narrow win.