Detroit Lions vs. Minnesota Vikings: Matchups to watch, key questions heading into Week 13

ALLEN PARK – The Detroit Lions (0-10-1) and their quest for their first win of the season continues. The Minnesota Vikings (5-6) are coming to Ford Field in Week 13. This post is featured by players and matchups for you to watch as you answer key questions before Sunday’s game:

Offensive player in mind: RB Jamaal Williams

Jamaal Williams will be needed more than ever this weekend as D’Andre Swift is out with a shoulder injury. Williams started most of the time this season while doing most of the short haul work. Even so, Swift’s performance on the ground and in passing has more than carried the team’s fidgeting offense this season, making it difficult to replace. Williams ran 15 times for 65 yards and caught five passes for 18 yards against the Bears last week.

Defensive player in mind: LB Derrick Barnes

Jalen Reeves-Maybin had seen most of the linebacker work alongside Alex Anzalone lately but is out with a shoulder injury which puts Derrick Barnes in the spotlight. The round four rookie has surfaced intermittently this season and has shown impressive finishing skills. Barnes has played a few games in coverage but there have been some difficult moments without question. Pro Football Focus allows him 13 catches on 15 targets for 155 yards and a touchdown for cover. He has shown lightning bolts against the barrel, however, with 42 tackles and three for loss in his rotational role.

Rookie to watch: RB Jermar Jefferson

Jamaal Williams will do most of the work, but Swift’s injury should allow the Lions to bring Godwin Igwebuike and Jermar Jefferson to more action from the backcourt. Igwebuike has continued to make the most of his touch while Jefferson has not had a carry since his ankle injury against the Steelers. The seventh round rookie has five carries for 47 yards and two touchdowns and intercepts four passes for 23 yards.

“Now where is Swift going to get it back? And I would say we are trying to find ways to put that on our list of talented players that we have, ”says Lions trainer Dan Campbell. “Swift is going to – I mean, Jamaal is going to take a lot of it. The same goes for the other two backs, Jefferson, Godwin, and some of the others have to come from our receivers and tight ends. “

Detroit’s Running Game vs. Minnesota’s Front Seven

With all of the above, there is reason to be optimistic about Sunday’s rushed attack on Detroit. The Vikings allow the worst 4.8 net yards per rushing attempt but appear to be getting some bits back this weekend. Dalvin Tomlinson returned for a full exercise to close the week after being activated by the COVID list. Armon Watts and Sheldon Richardson also trained to the full on Friday. Linebacker Anthony Barr is in question with knee and thigh injuries while Eric Kendricks is in question due to a biceps injury. Barr and Kendricks are vitally important in the middle of Minnesota’s defense, so these are two designations worth pursuing.

Lions QB Jared Goff vs. Vikings S Harrison Smith

Harrison Smith’s first interception of the season last week went so smoothly that it earned a spot on the matchup to watch list. The veteran security expert hasn’t been elitist this season, but he’s still more than capable of locking things down. Smith is an all-round talent, with Lions quarterback Jared Goff doing his best reading on Sunday. Goff hasn’t intercepted since week 7 when he kicked two out in Los Angeles. He returned to the starting XI after missing a game due to an oblique injury on Thanksgiving, to mixed results. Goff was accurate, but aside from an early deep shot at Josh Reynolds, he was the same ultra-conservative me. When it comes to his oblique injury, the quarterback downplayed the idea that it lasts longer than any usual pain.

“We’re all kind of sore right now, so it’s just kind of – no matter what week we’re 12, whatever it is – it’s kind of standard for everyone,” said Goff. “I don’t feel like I feel more than anyone else.”

Vikings WR Justin Jefferson vs. Lions CB Amani Oruwariye

Justin Jefferson had a day at Amani Oruwariye’s expense the last time these two teams played. Jefferson had five catches for 104 yards in the first half alone and two more for 20 yards in the second. The sophomore wideout made an impressive 37 yard catch on a third and 6 with Oruwariye all over him who appeared to be the corner number. Jefferson hasn’t slowed down, crossing the 1,000-yard mark in 11 games, rocking 21 catches for 395 yards and two touchdowns in the last three games alone.

Oruwariye is third in the league with five picks, fresh from one of his best games of the season, while catching Andy Dalton in the end zone with an impressive read. He’s the 100th cornerback with enough snaps to qualify per PFF, so there have been some undisputed tough spots, but the third-year corner is the veteran leader in this inexperienced space.

How much does Dan Campbell’s playcalling change without D’Andre Swift?

While D’Andre Swift has done most of the work on-site for the past few weeks, he’s been one of the team’s top pass catchers this season. The Lions struggled to get the ball to their wide receivers, with TJ Hockenson making inconsistent returns since its brilliant start. It’s easy to imagine a world where Mike Zimmer’s defense on Sunday’s Detroit offensive makes life hell, focuses on Hockenson, and stacks the box. The Vikings limited the tight end to two catches for 22 yards in week 5 for the third year.

The Lions have failed to expand the field this season with or without Swift and have not scored 20 points since their season opener defeat. Swift put this team on their backs in November as they made career highs in the consecutive weeks leading up to Thanksgiving.

“Look, it’s not easy to replace a guy like him, as dynamic as he was,” said Campbell. “You’re making a good point, and I think the real thing now is that the production is now done by scrap.”

Can Detroit’s defense against Vikings RB Alexander Mattison do a better job?

Alexander Mattison ran 113 yards 25 times, caught all seven targets over 40 yards and a touchdown the last time these NFC North enemies met. He hasn’t seen double-digit carries in the seven weeks since, but that’s the life behind Dalvin Cook. Mattison gets another chance to start against the Lions and their inconsistent but improving run defense. The loss of Jalen Reeves-Maybin to the linebacker is significant as he was a humble ray of hope on a team that lacks them.

Mattison’s likely start will be his third straight run against the Lions, for those looking for a strange statistic. He has 58 carries for 277 yards and one touchdown, 10 passes for 90 yards, and two scores in his last three games against Detroit. The Vikings have won eight straight wins in this series and aim to make it three in a row without Cook in the line-up.

Related headlines:

The scorching hot Penei Sewell is classified as questionable with a new shoulder injury; D’Andre Swift officially out for Lions

Detroit Lions honor Oxford victims during the Vikings game at Ford Field

Converted Security Godwin Igwebuike Could See A Greater Role For Lions If RB D’Andre Swift Is Down

‘My Cause, My Cleats:’ Check out what Detroit Lions players will be playing and supporting this week

Lions CB Amani Oruwariye has nothing against the nickname “Lucky Charms” as long as the ball hits him

Dungeon of Doom Podcast: Dan Miller, voice of the Detroit Lions, looks ahead and talks about favorite calls

Ask Kyle: What are the odds that Detroit will use the first draft pick for Michigan’s Aidan Hutchinson?

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