Good News — The Vikings Employ Jared Goff’s Nemesis.

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The Detroit Lions have a three-game lead in the NFC North. They have not quite clinched the division, but all they need is to win one more. Minnesota, meanwhile, needs to win two of the last three games to reach the playoffs, two of which will go against Detroit. Jared Goff has been running their offense efficiently all year, but he will meet his rival on Sunday.

Good News — The Vikings Employ Jared Goff’s Nemesis.

Goff ranks third in passing yards and passing touchdowns. He played in a Super Bowl with the Rams in 2019 and is currently leading his franchise to its first NFC North title. However, he will face Vikings defensive coordinator Brian Flores next.

Good News, the Vikings Employ Jared Goff's Nemesis
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Flores was New England’s defensive play-caller in Super Bowl LIII, a game in which Goff’s explosive Rams were held to only three points. The passer had 229 passing yards and threw one pick. Star running back Todd Gurley was also neutralized. The Patriots eventually won the Super Bowl 13-3, and Flores moved on to become the head coach of the Miami Dolphins.

With Miami, Flores was asked to stop Goff once again. The Rams scored 17 points in the 2020 matchup, and Goff attempted 61 passes (35 completions for 355 yards). He scored once but had four turnovers, resulting in a pathetic 8.5 QBR and a 37.1 PFF grade.

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Those two performances were with offensive mastermind Sean McVay in Goff’s corner, but they still couldn’t move the ball against the brilliant defensive coach. Flores’ defense is known for dialing up blitzes and pressuring the quarterback, and that is what Goff has always struggled with.

That trend continues despite playing under offensive coordinator Ben Johnson, who is expected to become a head coach in the upcoming offseason. Similar to McVay, he is excellent at drawing up wonderful QB-friendly plays. When Goff has time to diagnose the defense, he will make the right reads, but when rushed, he tends to make mistakes.

Flashing Lights Could
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His numbers in 2023 back that theory up, as he has thrown for 6 TDs and 8 INTs under pressure. Those numbers skyrocket to a fabulous 20 TDs and only 2 INTs when kept clean. The agenda is obvious. Pressure Goff and dramatically increase the chances to win the game.

The Vikings are an interesting case when it comes to pass-rush. Their strategy is to call blitzes on every other play, hoping that someone gets free and can attack the quarterback. Flores also loves to line up most of his defenders at the line of scrimmage just to drop eight guys in coverage to confuse the offense. And it has surely worked out so far, as the defense is climbing into the top ten in most rankings and metrics, a surprising improvement from last season.

Explained: Predictions and Analysis for Vikings-Lions
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Star pass-rusher Danielle Hunter is also asked to do his thing. He is currently second in the league in sacks, trailing Steelers defender T.J. Watt by half a sack. With Marcus Davenport continuing his extensive stint on IR, backups D.J. Wonnum and Patrick Jones must make an impact.

Despite identifying the flaw of Detroit’s offense, most teams have tried to attack it. It is still hard to stop Johnson’s unit, which ranks eighth in EPA/Play, ninth in passing, and fifth in rushing. They have a strong offensive line and feature a bunch of playmakers with running backs Jahmyr Gibbs and David Montgomery, rookie tight end Sam LaPorta, and top receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown.

After the first disappointing defensive game in a while, Flores is looking to bounce back on Sunday to keep the playoff hopes alive. His group is seventh in EPA/Play and has top-ten passing and rushing defense rankings.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt