Vikings Will Beat Lions if They Do These 2 Things

Explained: Predictions and Analysis for Vikings-Lions
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The Vikings enter Week 16 three games out of first place in the division. With two of the final three contests against the Detroit Lions, they still have a chance to defend their division title. Kevin O’Connell’s franchise must beat the Lions twice, sweep the Packers, and hope Detroit drops a game in Dallas in Week 17.

Vikings Will Beat Lions if They Do These 2 Things

While that scenario is possible, it becomes moot if they can’t take care of Dan Campbell’s roaring Lions on Sunday. There are two keys to victory.

Vikings Will Beat Lions if They Do These 2 Things
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The Vikings have had a turnover problem all season long, but that needs to change if they want to be considered a serious team going forward. It is simply unacceptable to cough up the ball at an alarming rate for an entire season.

26 turnovers in 14 games ranks the Vikes third in the 2023 campaign, only trailing the Browns and the Jets. It is their worst total in a single season in a decade and should eliminate them from playoff contention.

The worst part? It has been a problem since Week 1, and they just can’t fix it., regardless of how often they talk about it. Since O’Connell has taken over as the head coach, the Vikings haven’t lost a game when they at least tied the turnover battle. In 2023 alone, they are 4-0 when they win the TO battle, 2-0 when they tie, and 1-7 when they lose.

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It is the same talker after every single loss. “We could’ve won had we not turned the ball over” has been said simply too often to expect it to change in the current season. The team had a fumble problem earlier in the season, but that turned into an interception issue with the QB carousel sans Kirk Cousins.

Nick Mullens and Joshua Dobbs have a history of turning the ball over. Dobbs was benched because of it, and Mullens’ gunslinging tendencies should continue to increase the turnover numbers. But if they can hold on to the ball, there is a good chance the Vikings will win the game.

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On defense, the key to victory is also simple. Quarterback Jared Goff struggles under pressure, so Brian Flores must find a way to create that pressure. Heavy blitzes are a staple of his defensive tactics and should continue to be heavily featured.

Goff’s 51.8 PFF grade under pressure ranks him in the middle of the league. His 2.4% big-time throw rate under pressure ranks him 28th of 29 QBs with at least 100 dropbacks, and his 5.5% turnover-worthy throw rate ranks him 20th. He has produced 6 TDs and 8 INTs in those circumstances for a passer rating of 64.4.

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Just for comparison, when he is kept clean, he has thrown 20 TDs and only 2 INTs for a PFF grade of 92.5 and a passer rating of 113.5. His turnover-worthy play rate is the league’s best, and his big-time throw rate is average. When he is comfortable, he can play as well as anyone in the NFL, but he turns into a backup quarterback when he’s forced to make quick decisions.

The former first-overall pick turns into a totally different player when he is pressured, making Flores the single most important person in Minnesota’s locker room. With a lack of productive pass-rushers and going up against a great offensive line, he must find ways to get to Goff. Historically, he’s had massive success against the quarterback in two matchups.

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