The Minnesota Vikings have had a difficult time getting their rushing offense going this season for a myriad of reasons, but things may finally be looking up coming off of a tough loss and into a divisional game against and opponent in the Detroit Lions who has seen the run game become their kryptonite in 2018.
Detroit is currently the league's 25th-ranked rushing defense with an average of 144.7 yards per game given up this year. On the flip side, the Vikings are 27th in the league in rushing at 87.1 yards per game. Something is going to give this weekend in Minneapolis, but the Vikings have actually started to become a bit more efficient on the ground since early in the season, where they were unable to get anything going at all. The Lions cannot say the same, as their putrid run defense has been an alarming trend all season long that their fans thought would start to improve under first-year head coach and defensive guru Matt Patricia.
The Lions have made an attempt to correct their run defense with a trade for All-Pro run stuffer Damon Harrison to anchor down the middle of their defense and his impact was felt instantly on Sunday, despite the lofty numbers racked up by Seattle. When Harrison was on the field (he played 39 snaps on Sunday vs. Seattle), they averaged only 3.2 yards per carry. When he was not on the field, they averaged 5.6 yards per carry. The impact of "Snacks" is already being felt and will be one of the most important matchups in Sunday's contest. The interior of the Vikings' offensive line (Danny Isidora, Pat Elflein, Mike Remmers) struggled a bit against the Saints and two of them will likely be tasked with double-teaming Harrison at any given time
Latavius Murray has been handling the majority of the workload in the Vikings' backfield with Dalvin Cook out and has heated up a bit. In the last three weeks, he has averaged 6.5, 4.6 and 4.3 yards per carry, respectively, with four rushing touchdowns. If Minnesota's offensive line holds up against an otherwise underwhelming front seven that the Lions will throw out there, it could wind up being a big day on the ground for the Vikings.
Detroit's secondary has struggled this season and cornerback Darius Slay has slipped a bit from his Pro Bowl form. Across from him is 2017 second round pick Teez Tabor, who has struggled mightily. It should wind up being another big day for either Adam Thielen or Stefon Diggs, or both, which should keep the defense honest enough to provide the running game a chance to once again get back on track.
Do not be surprised to see the Vikings run early and often on Sunday as they try to right the ship heading into the bye week. They should be able to move the football with a relative amount of success against the Lions defense. It would not be a surprise to see one of the rookie backs, either Mike Boone or Roc Thomas, have a breakout performance should they wind up being active again.
Source: 247Sports | Anthony Broome | October 31, 2018