Lions Win—and the Vikings are to be thanked for it

Vikings Territory Breakdown S4E13: Co-host Joe Oberle and Star Tribune’s Mark Craig.

The Vikings did the impossible (for every other team that played Detroit this season), they lost to 0-10-1 Lions giving them their first win of the season—and their first one in 364 days. While that is difficult to take in any season, this year it is doubly disastrous since it sinks the Vikings to 5-7 and almost certainly sinks their chances to make the playoffs. Nothing, at this point, is certain, from player personnel and the folks that deal with that.

The Vikings came into the game even more depleted with injuries and sickness and absences that gutted head coach Mike Zimmer’s defense and resulted in the unit giving up 29 points to the hapless Lions. (That is where team depth comes and so we look again towards those player personnel people.) But it was every bit the fault of the offense, which moved the ball often but sputtered in Lions’ territory with three drives resulting in field goals while the Vikings defense was giving up touchdowns. This game was lost in the first 30 minutes.

We had a lot of guys missing but no excuse. We didn’t play well in the first half,” Zimmer told KFAN radio after the game. “We didn’t play well enough today, and that’s my fault.”

The loss will come back to haunt this team, if not just for nearly scuttling their playoffs, but also for the fortunes of the front office. The fire Zim and Rick Spielman chants are certain to arise, even though you can’t blame the coaches for injuries and illness. Zim is right, the team should have played better—and at times they did—and it is on him that they didn’t. And that will be a refrain that will spoken over and over until Thursday night when the Vikings host the Pittsburgh Steelers on prime time football. In fact, they might even find a voice in U.S. Bank Stadium that night if things do go well right out of the gate.

Before that, however, tune into the Vikings Territory Breakdown podcast, where I will talk with the Star Tribune’s Mark Craig to see what he thinks about this game and its aftermath. Rest assured, the Vikings postseason is not out of reached yet, but it is surely a ways a way from their grasp, and they will likely pull a muscle when grabbing at it. Here are a few of the topics we will be discussing on Monday morning, when sad trombones will resound across the frozen north.

Listen to the Podcast on your favorite podcast platform or watch them here.

Topics to Cover in Lions Win over Vikings

**Justin Jefferson’s big day. A career high in 11 grabs for 182 yards and a touchdown. He actually needed the ball more.

**Adam Thielen hurt early, which somehow opened things up for JJ—what does that do for the rest of the season?

**Kirk Cousins has good stats once again, until you look at the win-loss column.

**The Vikings depleted defense—the front line is good, but they lost too many cogs before kickoff on Sunday. What can be done?

**What was that offensive line they cobbled together? What was the thinking?

**Who takes the blame for this one? Zim? Defense? Kirk? Offense? There is plenty to spread around.

**Aggression breeds success for this QB and this team. Where was it in the first half?

**Was going for two the right call early in the game?

**The blitz worked every time. The rest of the game Jared Goff had time for whatever he wanted. Why didn’t they blitz more?

**The fans want it. Is it finally time to move on Mike and Rick?

**Can they still make they playoffs? Do we actually want this team to line up against a playoff team?

**The Vikings have done this before—letting the Lions off the hook—so it shouldn’t be a big deal, right?

**The Vikings face a bad Steeler team on Thursday night. Will the keep their playoff hopes alive? The Steelers’ playoff hopes, I mean.