It might be safe to say that no other quarterback in the NFL knows the Vikings defense quite as well as Matthew Stafford.
The Lions passer has been sacked 61 times over 17 games against Minnesota. In the teams' most recent meeting on Nov. 4, Stafford was sacked 10 times.
The Vikings (7-6-1) will visit the Lions (5-9) in Detroit at noon (CT) Sunday.
"I think since I've been in the league, they've had great players. Great players who rush the passer at a high level. This team's obviously no different," Stafford told Detroit area media members this week. "When [Vikings Head Coach Mike] Zimmer got there it was a little bit of a scheme change, and their scheme's about as good as anybody in the league.
"Match that with some really good players, and it's going to be a unique challenge for an offense to figure out where they're coming from, how to pick them up and how to go about it," Stafford added.
Stafford has been battling a back injury and was limited participant in this week's practices. He is listed as questionable. Asked by a reporter if, considering the back and the fact that the Lions have been eliminated from the postseason, he potentially would sit out Sunday's game, Stafford said he's plenty motivated.
"For me, it's a division game. I'm fired up to play these guys," Stafford said. "They're a really good team, a great challenge for us every time we play them. It's in our house. I don't need much extra motivation than that, to tell you the truth."
Lions Head Coach Matt Patricia also spoke about Minnesota's defense when he spoke to Twin Cities media members via conference call this week. Patricia called it a "huge challenge" to prepare for the Vikings.
"Minnesota has a phenomenal front, and those guys do a great job of rushing and getting after the quarterback," said Patricia, who talked about the difficulties at U.S. Bank Stadium in November.
"Certainly from a standpoint of scheme and Coach Zimmer putting together a great disguise package and pressure package, it put us in a tough situation with the score," Patricia said. "It kind of all combined and put us in a situation where we're trying to throw the ball, and those guys were able to get off really well and get after the quarterback.
"They've been able to do that against quite a few teams," Patricia added. "It's such a tough place to play up there and with [Danielle] Hunter and [Everson] Griffen and [Sheldon] Richardson in the middle."
Here are other highlights of the Lions talking about the Vikings this week:
Stafford on familiarity with Vikings, preparing for defense:
"I think we probably look different to them as an offense, as far as who we've got out there and all that. I think we've adapted and done things differently as our personnel and situations changed. I know we'll look a little different to them. I'm sure they'll have something a little different for us – they always do. They're a really well-coached football team, a really good defense, a bunch of good players and a real good scheme."
S Glover Quin on the Vikings offense:
"[Stefon Diggs is] just another huge playmaker that they add to the field. Last game, Dalvin Cook was coming off of injury, Diggs didn't play. This game, Diggs is healthy, Dalvin Cook is healthy, so at this point in the season, they're fairly healthy as a team. There's just more playmakers on the field, more attention has to be paid to different guys, so it definitely changes the dynamic."
Quin on Minnesota's offense under Kevin Stefanski:
"You see some of the same stuff, some of the same plays. It's just the frequency … When you can run the ball 37 times, obviously you're being successful in the run game, and your defense is doing a great job. Look at them – they were up 21-0 in the first quarter. Any time you're up 21-0, especially with a defense like that, they're probably going to keep handing it off. … When you can run the ball like that, that's obviously going to open up the play-action game for Kirk [Cousins] and create some easy throws, wide-open guys, and you can clearly see that on film. We've got to stop the run game and go from there."
CB Darius Slay on Vikings receivers:
"It's going to be a challenge out there; we're going to be working. They've got great guys, they've got a great quarterback. We're just going to step up to the task and try to handle business.
"They can do a lot more [when Diggs is in the game]; he's obviously a great receiver. He goes out there and makes tough catches, runs great routes. We just have to go out there … and compete. It doesn't matter who's out there. We have to go to work."
Patricia on Minnesota's offense:
"The thing about this team, the players are who they are. They're obviously outstanding on that side of the ball, they have many different skill players they can get the ball to, their run game, the quarterback does a great job of kind of managing that entire system."