Infirmary: Vikings without Slew of Starters at DET

Infirmary: Vikings without Slew of Starters at DET
Christian Darrisaw

The Minnesota Vikings should thank a deity for the Detroit Lions plopping on their schedule this weekend.

If Minnesota was to square off against a good football team – the Vikings have done that ad nauseam in 2021 – the prognosis would be grim. Very grim.

Out of the gate, the Vikings will be without these starting football players versus the 0-10-1 Lions on Sunday:

RB1 – Dalvin Cook
TE1 – Irv Smith Jr.
LT1 – Christian Darrisaw
DE1 – Danielle Hunter
DE2 – Everson Griffen
CB1 – Patrick Peterson

And then the franchise’s two best linebackers are questionable:

Michael Pierce and Dalvin Tomlinson – the beefy section of the defensive line that was absent against the run-happy San Francisco 49ers in Week 12 – are scheduled to return, although nothing is terribly confirmed about that theory.

Oct 3, 2021; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) runs the ball against Minnesota Vikings defensive end Dalvin Tomlinson (94) at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Blewett-USA TODAY Sports

Detroit hasn’t defeated Minnesota since October 1, 2017 – the final game Minnesota dropped in its NFC Championship season before ripping off eight consecutive wins. Indeed, the Vikings have topped the Lions eight straight times.

The era of dominance for the Vikings over Lions heightened substantially with the addition of Kirk Cousins to the roster in 2018. In eight career games versus Detroit, Cousins is accountable for 17 touchdown passes to just two interceptions. As a Viking, his team has never lost to Detroit.

On the injuries, the Vikings just have to find a way to deal with it. Nobody around the league cares that Minnesota is missing six starters with two stalwarts defensive players questionable – it’s the Lions as the opponent for God’s sake. The Vikings have a 52% chance to reach the postseason per FiveThirtyEight.com, and a lot of that percentage is predicated on the ease of beating the lowly Lions.

So far in 2021, 91% of all Vikings game have been decided by eight points or less, making the prediction for this Week 13 contest tricky to formulate. Will the Vikings beat the Lions? Probably. Perhaps they’ll “stoop to the level” of the Lions? Probably.

Nearly every Vikings game in this strange season is a squeaker. If the Vikings are sick of anxiety-infused Sundays, this Lions matchup is a prime occasion to institute a spanking. Minnesota hasn’t beaten a team by more than 14 points since Week 15 of 2019 – that was at the Los Angeles Chargers and was the game former defensive end Ifeadi Odenigbo notched a defensive touchdown.

Mike Zimmer’s team is due for a relaxing win.

Even in the face of a reduced roster with the injuries to Cook, Smith Jr., Darrisaw, Hunter, Griffen, and Peterson, Minnesota should still find a way to impose its will.

Nevertheless, should the Vikings find a way to lose at Detroit – they almost lost to the Lions two months ago at home – get prepared for disgruntlement not heard surrounding the franchise since 2013.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sally from Minneapolis. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).

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