It's been a long time since the Vikings have been in the position they find themselves in now. They're clearly the king of the hill in the NFC North and, with a win tomorrow, can eliminate the Detroit Lions from division title hopes in the ninth game of the season. That is hard to imagine, but it's the reality the Lions are facing at the moment.
The Lions have become a laughingstock among the NFL fraternity and for good reason. They stink. Matt Millen should be taken to civil court over the stewardship of the organization under his watch. This is a team in disarray that stinks about as bad as the downtown subway station.
A Hollywood scriptwriter would be shown the door to describe a team like the Lions competing with the big boys of the NFL. Consider the following:
The Lions have the 25th-ranked offense and 26th-ranked defense.
Offensively, in all of the team ranking categories (17 in all), they rank higher than 20th in just three – they're 17th in third-down efficiency, tied for 12th in gross punt average and 13th in field goal percentage – Jason Hanson deserves combat pay.
Defensively, of the 17 ranking categories, they're also in the top 20 in only three – rushing yards per game (12th, but that may be attributed to being 32nd in yards passing allowed), third-down efficiency (19th), and gross punt average (9th).
Believe it or not, the Lions have outscored their opponents 50-45 in the first quarter of games this year. However, in the second and third quarters, they have been outscored 137-53.
They have scored 14 touchdowns in eight games and allowed 28.
They have 16 sacks and have allowed 26.
Their three quarterbacks – Matthew Stafford, Daunte Culpepper and Drew Stanton – have a combined passer rating of 55.6. Opposing quarterbacks have a combined passer rating of 107.3 – higher than any individual passer rating of any QB in 2009.
Opposing runners have averaged 4.7 yards per rushing attempt, which begs the question, "why does anyone ever pass?" Maybe it's because the Lions have allowed 2,200 yards in passing yardage – 275 yards a game.
Opposing quarterbacks complete 71.7 percent of their passes – higher than any individual total in the league for quarterbacks.
They have yet to score more than 27 points in a game. They have allowed 27 or more five times.
They have been favored in the point spread just once all season – they were a three-point favorite over St. Louis and lost 17-10. They have been a double-digit underdogs six times and Sunday will be the seventh.
They have thrown 16 interceptions (two a game) and have taken away just six – by six different players.
Only one player – Kevin Smith – has more than two touchdowns, and journeyman cornerback William James has scored as many touchdowns (one) as Calvin Johnson – taken four picks ahead of Adrian Peterson in the 2007 draft.
There's every reason for the Vikings to be overconfident heading into Sunday's game. Why? Because the Lions are about as dismal as an NFL team gets. Offense. Defense. Special teams. Pick your poison. This could be the worst team the Vikings face all year, which is saying something since we've already seen Cleveland and St. Louis.
‘Dismal' doesn't describe Detroit enough
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