*Pre-editor post (forgive any typos)
Several weeks ago, my computer models started tracking the Detroit Lions as one of the 10 best teams in football. Their O-Line was one of the top-rated, their defense was pressuring the pass, and their offense was above average. They beat up the Patriots. Lost a heartbreaker at the buzzer to Dallas. Obliterated Green Bay. Then went to a very tough road game, to Miami, and handled the Dolphins. Everything looked genius.
Then the Lions got whacked by Seattle, and our system started to worry about the Lions internal last 2-3 games of internal numbers. Our system started to turn on the Lions against the Vikings…and Minnesota thrashed them here. The Lions are fading fast in our system…out of our top 10 a few weeks ago, now almost out of the top half of teams.
The Vikings got up 7-0 quickly. Led 17-6 at the half. Put it away in the 4th taking a 24-6 lead and finish9ing the Lions off 24-9…it wasn’t as close as the score indicated.
Detroit looks like they have a team/players vs. Matt Patricia problem, and Patricia threw gasoline on the fire by trading Golden Tate before this game. There was absolutely no good reason for Detroit to make that trade. They could have just played it out with Tate, got a compensation pick when he went elsewhere as a free agent…and no big deal. But, oddly, they gave him away – and the team was mortified in a Jon Gruden-dumps-Khalil Mack sort of way. Message to the team – Matt Patricia and the system is more important than the team. Now, it may be so…but Patricia doesn’t have that clout yet. It gave the players the notion that management was throwing in the towel early on the season. Watching the Lions in this game – the team felt something negative because it was their worst performance of the year since the Jets Week 1 humiliation.
The Lions fall to 3-5, on their way to 6-10. A few weeks ago, they seemed like NFC North contenders…now, they feel like their headed to last place and the coach has turned on them.
OR…maybe the Vikings are that good. They HUMILIATED the Lions here. 10 sacks! The Lions barely allowed 10 sacks all season…and then 10 in one game? Dysfunctionality has arrived to Detroit. Matt Patricia is so rocket scientist smart he took a team leading the NFC North and quit on them and turned them into the division’s worst team…all in 2-3 weeks. There is something about Patricia I do not like as a head coach. Fine assistant…terrible lead man. It’s not a crime to not be ‘the face’ kinda coach, but the Lions have to live with this and his buddy GM for a few years to find out.
The Vikings jump to 5-3-1, but as I’ve said repeatedly – the schedule is coming to get them. @CHI, GB, @NE, @SEA is an almost unfair the next 4 games. If they go 1-3 in that stretch…they fall to 6-6-1, needing to win out the final 3 weeks to get to the playoffs. Week 17 vs. CHI might be for the division…or the Bears already got to 10 wins and don’t care/Minnesota is shutout of the playoffs.
Fantasy Player Notes…
-- So, the Lions traded Golden Tate…which only made an ounce of sense -- IF they were then going to push hot shot preseason UDFA WR Brandon Powell. Well, Powell never saw the field. But T.J. Jones and Andy Jones did.
Maybe Detroit can trade for Zay Jones and bring James Jones out of retirement and just have an all Jones WR group?
They planned so well for life without Tate…Matt Stafford (25-36 for 199 yards, 0 TD/0 INT) was lost, and the supposed Kenny Golladay (3-46-0/4) uprising produced another empty trickle.
Stafford went back to his remaining trusted safety valve…Theo Riddick (7-36-0/8), and Riddick did what he does…lots of catches and zero results.
What a mess.
I don’t know that you can expect any different the next week, etc. This is what it is…Detroit took a key piece out and didn’t replace it with a similar piece. They just left the offense out there to reinvent itself from what it was used to the last 3 years.
The first showing post-Tate…not so good.
Oh, and Brandon Powell…the fact that they just signed Bruce Ellington tells you all you need to know about that.
-- I’m just saying, I’m still watching Kerryon Johnson (12-37-0, 3-7-0/5) like a hawk…and I’m not a fan of his running style. He needs a brilliant O-Line to work for him, and he had that weeks ago…but this whole thing has fallen apart the last few weeks and so has KJ – 20 carries for 59 yards total the past two weeks.
He’ll be fine-ish for FF because they’ll jam him all the touches and Blount-Riddick are terrible, but Johnson cannot create…he goes to the line and goes as far as a hole will take him. No hole, he’s done…he doesn’t find space well at all.
I’m still watching to see if Johnson is going to be another Lions RB disappointment long-term…but I know he’ll get a hundred chances to fail. He reminds me a bit of Jeremy Hill…one moment he’s the greatest because he was a rookie who had a few nice tallies for a stretch -- and then a year or two later, no one cares as he struggles to make things happen. Hill was a production of the holes he got one year and then died fast the next two season. Anyone remember how good Jeremy Langford was going to be after he had a few moments as a rookie? I’m wondering if Kerryon might head that way.
-- Speaking of RBs I do not fancy…Dalvin Cook (10-89-0, 4-20-0/4) returned to a split with Latavius Murray. Dalvin was having a pretty rough return and then popped a 70-yard run…off-tackle, untouched until caught from behind. Nice run…that anyone could have run.
Cook, like Kerryon Johnson, will get a thousand chances while other deserving guys watch. It is what it is. The Vikings O-Line is nothing like it was in 2017. Takeaway that one 70-yard gift…Cook has carried the ball 45 times for 117 yards this season…2.6 yards per carry. He’s an RB2 with an RB3 for the ROS.
-- Adam Thielen (4-22-1/7) ended his run of 100+ yard games here. I didn’t see anything special by Detroit to stop him…it was just Minnesota getting up quick and never feeling any pressure from Detroit and a quiet passing game.
-- Minnesota 2nd-year LB Eric Wilson (6 tackles) got his first start, finally…and played a nice, solid game. When Anthony Barr is back he may go back to the bench but watch for Wilson if they give him a chance – our highest rated ILB in 2017 for the NFL Draft. Not that he’s special, just pretty good.
-- Can you trust the Vikings-DST ahead? Nope.
Trubisky-Rodgers-Brady-Wilson the next 4 weeks. They’re on a BYE this week and people should be dropping them, but they won’t. If you see them on waivers…be afraid unless you want them for Weeks 15-16 with MIA-DET.
-- The Lions-DST? Weeks 14-15 are at ARI, at BUF…not bad. However, the Lions may be mailing it in at that point. They’re about to lose their next 4 games and, thus, six losses in-a-row leading into that ARI-BUF stretch.
-- Fantasy Playoff Notes for these two teams…
All things Detroit are bad ahead. CHI-CAR-CHI-LAR is a bad stretch for their offense and defense. Jump away from Jones-Golladay-Stafford in redraft, and Kerryon is probably in trouble too. Even at ARI, at BUF…good for the Lions’ DST but not ‘great’ for the offense.
Detroit’s offense has a bad setup to the finish.
Minnesota doesn’t have it easy either, but better than Detroit. The next 4 weeks at CHI, GB, at NE, at SEA could be a few cold weather games facing in-the-playoff hunt teams.
at SEA, MIA, at DET for Weeks 14-16 isn’t bad, though. Minnesota should be OK in that stretch, and still playing for things. Everything projects pretty ‘normal’ for the Vikes Weeks 14-16.
Snap Counts of Interest:
28 = Cook
22 = L Murray
68 = Golladay
63 = M Jones
36 = TJ Jones
39 = Kerryon
39 = Riddick
11 = Blount