Lions at Vikings: A Tale of Two Different Teams

Rival Named as Possible
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When the Minnesota Vikings host the Detroit Lions on Sunday, they will do so with their playoff hopes heavily on the line. Kevin O’Connell’s team must bounce back from a loss in Cincinnati last weekend, but these two squads couldn’t be more different from where they were a season ago.

Lions at Vikings: A Tale of Two Different Teams

Last year, the Detroit Lions were the NFL’s worst defensive team. Unable to stop anyone, their high-powered offense was often rendered useless in the scheme of the overall game. It was an unfortunate reality given the emergence of Amon-Ra St. Brown and the development of Jared Goff.

Lions at Vikings: A Tale of Two Different Teams
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This season, not only are the Lions still putting points on the board at a high level, but Dan Campbell’s team has made substantial strides on defense. They have been able to stop the opposition, and it has them coming in with a 10-4 record atop the NFC North.

A year ago, the Vikings were a flawed team that often capitalized in the biggest situations and became the stars of one-score games. They haven’t had that same luck this year, and they have often shot themselves in the foot with turnovers and a lack of discipline. Being on a fourth quarterback hasn’t helped them either, but much of Minnesota’s miscues have been self-inflicted.

On Sunday, the Vikings must pull off an upset as they come in as underdogs with 3.5 points. However, it isn’t an impossible feat, as the Chicago Bears just knocked off the Lions two weeks ago. Chicago has played Detroit tough this season and should have had victories against them in both contests. Detroit also recently dropped a game to the Green Bay Packers, and despite their 10-4 record, they haven’t shown well within the division.

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Minnesota hasn’t seen this iteration of the Lions yet, and they face each other two times in the next three weeks. If O’Connell’s team is going to make the playoffs this year, it’s almost a guarantee they have to win one of two against Detroit. Doing so on the road at Ford Field would be a much taller task, and taking care of business at home should always be the focus.

The Vikings have put themselves in a tough position with their inability to close out games or lock up those they are expected to win. Now, with the odds stacked against them, they’ll have to show they can battle through adversity and pull off the upset.

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Seeing how much the Lions have changed in a year and viewing it through the lens of Minnesota’s own changes is quite the swing. These teams couldn’t be more opposite from where they were last season, and really, they couldn’t be less alike in 2023, either. Sunday comes down to one game, though, and the execution has to be there for a full 60 minutes. The Lions have a stranglehold on the division, but Minnesota can’t let them snuff out their playoff shot, either.

Ted Schwerzler is a blogger from the Twin Cities that is focused on all things Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings. He’s active on Twitter and writes weekly for Twins Daily. As a former college athlete and avid sports fan, covering our pro teams with a passion has always seemed like such a natural outlet.