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What'd They Say: Lions Talk About Vikings

The Lions said this week that the Vikings defense is as good as they've seen recently and noticed not much has changed for the unit since Minnesota swept the NFC North series last season.

In the teams' first meeting, the Vikings only recorded one sack of Stafford but were credited by press box statisticians with eight hits of the quarterback, who underwent X-rays on his chest after the game.

The second time around, Minnesota recorded seven sacks of Stafford and was credited with 13 hits in Detroit.

The Lions made changes to their coaching staff the following day, firing Offensive Coordinator Joe Lombardi and replacing him with Jim Bob Cooter, as well as putting Ron Prince in charge of the offensive line.

"Those guys have a phenomenal pass rush and a really complex blitz scheme," Cooter said during a media session this week. "We feel better about what we're doing schematically and feel better about our guys up front.

"These are guys that are aggressive, and they've got a really good scheme that's been developed over the years and just gotten better and better and better as I've seen it from an outside perspective," Cooter added. "A really good challenge for our offense, and we'll see how we handle it."

Stafford said Vikings defenders "play with a bunch of effort."

"Every time I've played them the last two-to-three years, they've been a top-flight defense, not only because they have really good players but because they have a really good scheme and guys that are smart, communicate and fit in that scheme," Stafford said.

Minnesota returned every starter from 2015 on defense in 2016. The Vikings have allowed the fewest points per game (14.9) this season.

Here are some highlights of what the Lions said about the Vikings this week:

View images of the key contributors on offense, defense and special teams for the Detroit Lions.

Lions Head Coach Jim Caldwell on the Vikings defense:

"It's still one of the best defenses in the league. Those guys have been playing together for a long time. They can do it all. They can rush the passer, they can stop the run, they have veteran guys playing in a number of different spots.

"They have perhaps two of the best pass rushers, maybe three even, in the league that are going to be near the top. [Everson] Griffen is a nightmare. [Brian] Robison does a great job. [Danielle] Hunter has come on and done a tremendous job, and what they do with [Anthony] Barr in matching him up with backs and things like that, they all give you problems, and their secondary, with [Xavier] Rhodes leading the pack, they're very good. I don't see any weaknesses with this defense. I think anybody that faces them will tell you the same thing."

Cooter on what Minnesota's defense does before the snap to confuse offenses:

There's a disguise element to it. A lot of it is sometimes things all look the same before the ball is snapped, and then any number of defenders can blitz, can rush, can drop. It's really complex from that standpoint. They basically have every possible variation of who can blitz, which makes it difficult on the offense. It's a little more comfortable when you feel really good about who they're blitzing or what they're blitzing or when they're blitzing.

Lions Defensive Coordinator Teryl Austin on what he expects from Minnesota's offense in Pat Shurmur's first game as interim offensive coordinator:

"The quarterback and offensive coordinator have a long working relationship, so there's a lot of familiarity there. With those two guys, [Shurmur is] going to know what Sam [Bradford] likes, what he really likes to do, and I'm sure there will be some positives to what they do to cater to the quarterback's strengths.

"I don't think it will be a wholesale change because I think it would be hard in the middle of a season, but I do think there will be some tweaks, and we'll have to adjust to it."

Lions safety Glover Quin on the importance of division games:

"Division games are huge. They're No. 1 in the division, so this is a big game.

Obviously we know each other well, been playing each other every year twice, so they know us, we know them, and it's going to be a tough battle.

Quin on playing at U.S. Bank Stadium for the first time and expected level of crowd noise:

"I tend to feel like stadiums are as loud as a team is good. If a team is playing well and doing good, fans are going to be showing up excited and loud.

"If we let them play their game, I'm pretty sure it will be real loud. It's a new stadium. I'm excited to play there."

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