The Minnesota Vikings travel to Ford Field today to take on the winless Detroit Lions. And, despite what Vikings' head coach Brad Childress would lead any who listen to believe, the Vikings ought to blow the Lions off the field.
Earlier in the week, it appeared that the Vikings might have to make do without either of their starting defensive tackles against a team with a modest rushing attack and a lesser passing game. We now know that both Pat and Kevin Williams will play against the Lions--a reality that should make the Lions' offense non-dimensional.
On the season, the Lions have scored 203 points. That's less than seventeen points per game, better only than Cincinnati, St. Louis, and Oakland and nearly 13 points fewer per game than the league-leading New York Giants.
Worse yet, the Lions have mustered a paltry 78 rushing yards per game, placing them ahead of only the running-back-less Bengals and Arizona Cardinals and giving them a mere 82 yards less per game than the league-leading Giants. Against the Titans, a team ranking ten slots below the Vikings in rushing yards allowed per game, the Lions gained only 23 yards rushing.
Unlike the Cardinals, the Lions have been unable to off-set their lack of a running game with any semblance of a passing attack, ranking near the bottom of the NFL in passing yards per game, ahead of only the usual suspects; the Lions' 182 passing yards per game leaves them just shy of the league-leading Saints' 316 passing yards per game.
On defense, the Vikings allow 73 rushing yards per game, good for second best in the league, and a respectable 219 passing yards per game. In short, the Vikings' defense should be too much for the Lions' woeful offense.
As ineffective and anemic as the Lions' offense has been in 2008, their defense has been far worse. While the Lions' passing yards allowed mirrors that of the Vikings, it merely masks the fact that no team has either the inclination or the need to bother passing against a truly terrible pass defense when they can run right through one of the worst run defenses ever assembled.
The Vikings rank just one spot ahead of the Lions in passing deficiency, averaging only 184 yards per game, but they rank fourth in the league in rushing offense with 143 yards per game. Tennessee, which follows in sixth place in league rushing, chewed up the Lions' defense for 292 rushing yards last week. Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor ought to be able to approach, if not outright obliterate that figure, today.
Detroit has allowed an incredible 33 points game this season with an average margin of defeat of sixteen points. Only once this season have the Lions finished a game within a field goal of their opponent and only two other times have they finished within a touchdown. They truly are a team of historic ineptitude.
Despite the woes and, more particularly, the margins of defeat that the Lions have suffered in 2008, Childress continues to contend that the Lions are "dangerous" and that the Vikings should expect a close game today because "there are very few blowouts in the NFL."
If one defines a blowout as a two touchdown or greater victory--math surely even supported in Childress' conservative world of statistical analysis--then there are, in fact, numerous blowouts in the NFL. Last week alone, there were nine such scores with six games decided by three touchdowns or more.
We know why Childress continues to contend that "most games in the NFL are close." It is because most of the games that he coaches close and he sees everything through the prism of those games. That's his world. That's his box.
Against the Lions, however, there will be no excuse for losing. And there really won't be any excuse, though we know we would get one anyway (something along the lines of "a win is a win--we'll take 'em any way we can get 'em"), for the Vikings to fail to run up the score on the Lions. It is, after all, the default this year in the NFL.
In spite of Childress' pulling of the reins, the Vikings should roll and roll big.
Up Next: More on the Williams' Legal Issues. Plus, post-game.