Every season is a new team and new situation, but the Vikings and Lions are pretty familiar with each other.
Sunday’s divisional matchup will mark the teams’ 114th meeting and 57th in Minnesota.
Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford has faced the Vikings 16 times since being drafted No. 1 overall by Detroit in 2009. He has been sacked 51 times, the most by any team (next closest is Chicago with 38). Vikings defensive ends Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter have combined for 14.5 sacks of the QB.
During Stafford’s mid-week podium session with Detroit media members, he was asked if any trick-or-treaters arrived at his doorstep dressed as Hunter.
Stafford had to laugh as he responded that the only Hunter he’s seen this week has been on tape.
“He’s long, physical, fast, really developed himself into a really good player,” Stafford said of the 24-year-old defensive end. “Their whole defense is extremely talented. Got a bunch of high draft picks, some big-time free agent guys they’ve signed, whatever it is. They’ve done a really nice job. They have a really tough scheme, they’re tops in league in a bunch of categories every year, and this year’s no different.”
He also talked about Griffen, who has more sacks of Stafford than of any other quarterback.
“He’s just a great energy guy for them. He plays with a ton of passion, a bunch of heart. He’s got an incredible motor when you watch the tape; I mean, the guy’s hustling after everything and I think kind of sets a tone for those guys,” Stafford said. “That’s the way they all play. When he’s out there, it’s just another one of those guys that’s running to the ball no matter where it is and making plays. It’s a huge test for us, especially going to their place.”
Lions left tackle Taylor Decker also is expecting a familiar face when he takes the field on Sunday. Decker is no stranger to lining up across from Griffen.
“There is a level of familiarity, but that also adds a level of difficulty. Because not only do I kind of know what he does, but he knows what I do,” Decker said. “So it’s kind of a little battle going on there. So not only am I going to see him but Hunter and [Stephen] Weatherly and some other guys. It’s definitely a unique challenge.”
Here are other highlights of Lions talking about Vikings this week:
Lions S Glover Quin on facing a familiar Vikings offense:
Glover was asked “what kind of stress” the duo of Vikings wide receivers Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen put on an opposing team’s secondary.
“They should be thinking what kind of stress it will put on them [when they] have to go against our secondary,” Quinn responded. “We play against these guys every year. They know what it is. That’s what it’s going to be. It’s NFL football. We go out and play; they go out and play.
“They know us; we know them. Let’s go at it.”
Lions Head Coach Matt Patricia on preparing for Minnesota’s offense:
“Kirk Cousins has done a phenomenal job of learning the system and controlling the offense. He really does a great job of getting the ball distributed to his skill players around him. He understands very quickly the coverages that are being played against him and being played against his skill players. He recognizes that very quickly and gets the ball out to the best place possible. When you’re trying to defend him, his play-making ability, his athleticism, his ability to hang in the pocket and be a smart quarterback … and then he gets the ball out to a great core of players in Diggs and Thielen and [Kyle] Rudolph and [Laquon] Treadwell. The list goes on and on of guys you have to try to defend. It makes them so dangerous from that standpoint.”
Patricia on Diggs-Thielen duo:
“Two phenomenal players. Thielen is an outstanding route runner; this guy does some unbelievable breaks in and out of his hips. He can separate, does a great job of squeezing the ball and coming back and just really understanding leverage – how to win his leverage, how to attack leverages from defenders and really create problems. They have multiple skills. Thielen puts a lot of stress on the intermediate area pretty quickly for defensive backs, where Diggs has that incredible vertical speed where he really can get behind the secondary very quick. They complement each other very well, but they do run enough routes where they’re both kind of in the intermediate area. And even in the shorter kind of range with the quicker throws, now the ball is in their hands faster and they use space to gain yardage after the catch of they’re able to create on their own. Definitely a complement of skills.”
Patricia on Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer’s defense:
“Coach Zimmer does a great job. He obviously has great players that fit into position. He really understands the scheme he wants to run and puts them in position to make plays. I’d say that his staples are kind of a variety of different things. He’s going to load the box, and he’s not going to let you run the ball. He’s going to play tight coverage behind it and mix up different looks in the front, whether it’s the double-A gap look, pressure off the edge, two from the side, two strong, two weak, different coverage combinations behind it based on formations. He’s just going to keep it moving.
“Sometimes they’re just going to line up and use their under/over look, put the linebacker on the line of scrimmage, bring the safety off the edge, so it’s very multiple for the different [number] of people that can come with pressure and then drop off into coverage. And then the tight coverage that’s in behind it, they’ll mix in the zone, so it’s a full complement of defense that you have to prepare for. I think he really just has some outstanding players put in position.”