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Opposing Viewpoint: Lions Writer Answers 5 Questions About Detroit

The Vikings have already gone on the road to Green Bay and Chicago in 2019, and it's now time for a trip to Detroit.

Minnesota has won two straight games to move to 4-2, and will finish off its NFC North road slate Sunday at Ford Field.

The Lions are 2-2-1 following a loss Monday night to the Packers. Detroit is 1-1 at home in 2019.

There has been plenty of coverage on the Purple this week, so Vikings.com chatted with Lions reporter Tim Twentyman for a glance at what the other side is thinking before Sunday's contest.

Here is the Week 7 edition of Opposing Viewpoint:

We'll start with the topic on most people's mind. With the frustrating way the Lions lost Monday night in Green Bay, has there been an extra edge to the team this week in preparation for the Vikings?

Tim Twentyman: I think this is a pretty even-keeled football team and they take that cue from head coach Matt Patricia. Detroit doesn't need any motivation other than the fact that Sunday is a division game and the Lions need to right the ship after two consecutive close losses to Kansas City and Green Bay, in which they blew fourth-quarter leads.

Detroit's 2-2-1 on the year and looking up at Chicago (3-2), Minnesota (4-2) and Green Bay (5-1) in the division. [The Lions] need to protect home turf and get a much-needed victory, and that's all the motivation they need.

Detroit was able to hit on some big plays Monday but struggled in and near the red zone. With the Lions tied for 21st with a red-zone touchdown percentage of 50, how much is that a point of emphasis going forward for Matthew Stafford and the offense?

TT: It's a huge point of emphasis. Lions Offensive Coordinator Darrell Bevell said the buzz word for everyone on offense this week is "finish."

You pointed out the red zone numbers, but maybe worse is that Detroit's had nine goal-to-go situations this season and have scored a touchdown on just four of those. They've kicked three field goals and turned it over twice. Only Jacksonville and Miami have a worse touchdown percentage in those situations.

"We've had our chances whether it's in the run game or the pass game, we've had chances and just haven't come up with them," quarterback Matthew Stafford said Thursday.

"Obviously, it's a huge point of emphasis. You have to make sure that you're getting points, especially doing a good job of getting it down inside the 10," he added. "You do that, and that's tough enough to do in this league. When you get nine chances and only come away with four of them, that's not good enough."

Speaking of Stafford, it seems he's been around forever. Now in Year 11, how is he playing and how does the offense cater to his strong skill set?

TT: Stafford really likes this new offense and it seems to fit his skill set. Detroit has been inconsistent running the football this year, but they've stuck with it, which is a credit to Bevell. By doing so, it's opened up the play-action pass, and Stafford is using that big right arm of his to take shots down the field.

Stafford is averaging 13.08 yards per completion, which is fourth highest in the NFL. His 21 completions of 21-plus yards are the seventh most in the league. He's averaging 8.0 yards per attempt, which would be a career high.

This is an offense under Bevell that is much more aggressive in the passing game and that definitely suits the gunslinger mentality Stafford's always had.

Detroit's had at least one 100-yard receiver in all five of their games, and it's come from four different players – Kenny Golladay (2), Marvin Jones, Jr., Danny Amendola and T.J. Hockenson.

The Vikings torched the Eagles for 300-plus passing yards and four touchdowns from Kirk Cousins. The Lions will counter with a strong cast of players in the secondary. What matchups do you have your eye on when Minnesota looks to throw?

TT: Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen are one of the best receiving duos in the NFL, in my opinion, and they put a lot of pressure on a defense.

Obviously, whoever Darius Slay lines up across from will be a good matchup to watch. Slay's been to the Pro Bowl the past two years and is one of the best cover corners in the league.

The biggest addition to Detroit's secondary has been Justin Coleman, who came over from Seattle as a free agent. This will be Minnesota's first matchup with him since he's come over.

He's currently Pro Football Focus' fourth-highest-graded cornerback. He plays a lot inside and will see Diggs or Thielen if they line up in the slot. Opposing quarterbacks are completing just 55 percent of their passes on Coleman this year. He's fourth in the league with 10 passes defended in five games and also has an interception, forced fumble and fumble recovery to his credits. He's been Detroit's best player on defense so far this year.

Detroit will probably get safety Quandre Diggs back for this game, which will be big for them in the backend of their defense. He missed the Packers game with a hamstring injury.

Look back at photos over the course of time featuring games between the Vikings and the Lions.

Finally, Sunday's game could have been for first place in the NFC North. Instead, it is still a large contest for both sides. Do you believe this one could have division title and playoff implications down the road?

TT: Yeah, every division game is huge. There's always a greater emphasis put on these division contests here in Detroit. This is only the second division game for the Lions this season, and they're 0-1 in the NFC North, so they should view this as a big game if they want to win their first division title since 1993.

It's a home game, too, so they always talk around here about protecting home turf. It's only Week 7, and there's a lot of football to be played, but this one Sunday could very much play into both division and playoff scenarios later on.

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