Following their most convincing win of the season so far, especially on the offensive side of the ball, the Minnesota Vikings will be looking to capture their first win against an NFC North opponent against the Detroit Lions. In order to take care of business in Detroit, the Vikings will need to continue to use some of their keys from last week’s huge win.
Feeding The Chef
It didn’t feel like the Vikings ran the ball especially well against the Eagles, but that was mostly due to Kirk Cousins and Stefon Diggs torching Philly’s secondary. Dalvin Cook still gained 41 yards and a touchdown and rookie Alexander Mattison had his highest rushing total so far this season with 63 yards.
The two-headed beast that is Cook-Mattison has been demoralizing to defenses all season, and has the Vikings with the second most team rushing yards in the NFL. So there is no question that the Vikings will be trying to get the running game going against a Detroit team that is near the bottom in rushing yards allowed per game. However, the Vikings may be able to use Cook to augment their passing game as much as their running game.
Coming off a week where Stefon Diggs torched the Eagles secondary, the Lions will no doubt be looking to stop the miracle man either by dropping coverage or by trying to get Kirk Cousins under pressure. The Vikings can counteract that by both running the ball well, and setting up screens to go to Cook, who is one of the best in the game at turning short throws into big gains. Either way, the Vikings should be looking for a huge game from their RB1.
Keep Kirk Cousins Moving and Sharing The Sugar
Against the Eagles, the Vikings had seven different players catch a pass from Kirk Cousins. Obviously Diggs was the belle of the ball with 167 yards and three touchdowns, but Adam Thielen mixed in 57 yards and a score. Olabisi Johnson also picked up a huge third down with a great catch along the sideline.
The point is, this team is much better when Kirk Cousins has the time and opportunity to spread the wealth. There are many ways this can be done, but the biggest are to continue to threaten to run and get Kirk Cousins on designed rollouts.
Running the ball is crucial in any game plan and the Vikings especially need it because making the defense freeze for just a second can open up the field for Thielen and Diggs, two of the best route runners in the NFL. All either receiver needs is a slight hesitation in a defender and they can be off to the races.
Kirk Cousins does exceptionally well outside of the pocket and he’d showed us that against Philadelphia. He doesn’t improvise quite as well as Rodgers or others at an elite level, but he has a bit of movement and he reads the field on the move with the best of them. If the Vikings can continue to get him out into space and time to throw, we could see even more yards this week.
The Element Of Surprise
The Vikings did some things last week that we haven’t seen for a while. They ran multiple trick plays and reverses to keep the defense on their toes. It hasn’t been out of character to see the Vikings run jet sweeps in recent memory, but I cannot remember seeing them break out multiple reverses and even a play designed for the wide receiver to throw the ball.
Sure, these plays can be high risk, but if you pick your spots well, first and ten or second and short, you can really keep the defense guessing and get some huge plays. If the Vikings can get the run game going, it might be a chance to see a flea flicker from Dalvin Cook or perhaps Diggs will get to throw that pass this week.