Skip to main content

O'HARA'S WEEK 9 CHECKLIST: Lions at Vikings

Off the top: Glover Quin's weekly media session had the air of a State of Reality address regarding the Detroit Lions, and where they stood in the aftermath of the trade of Golden Tate to the Eagles.

It raised a number of legitimate questions, as would the midseason departure of any veteran starter. Quin's opinion is respected because of his stature – both as a starting safety in his 10th season and his overall perspective on pro football as a game and business enterprise.

What is the impact of losing the team's leading receiver on quarterback Matthew Stafford and the offense?

What does trading a productive veteran of Tate's quality – well on his way to a fifth straight season of at least 90 catches -- for a 2019 draft pick say about the direction of the team for the last nine games, starting Sunday on the road against the NFC North rival Minnesota Vikings?

"What the organization wants ... short term, long term – it doesn't matter," Quin said. "We've still got to go out there and play on Sunday. It is what it is. The Vikings aren't going to feel sorry for us.

"How do we know this move doesn't help us win now? All you guys are speculating. How do you know? We haven't played one game.

"Things happen every year, man. The Eagles won a Super Bowl last year. You think they felt that way when Carson Wentz (the quarterback) got hurt? Like, 'It's all over now?' They went out and played. They still won it.

"Things happen all the time. It so happened that it happened to us. You guys read way too much into it."

The reality is that the NFL stops for no one and nothing – injuries, trades, sudden retirements, head coaches being fired or retiring in midseason. The game goes on – always.

The Lions did not get better this week because they traded away Tate. With or without him, the value of this team for this season was going to be defined in the last nine games.

Nothing the defense does or doesn't do has anything to do with Tate. The same for special teams.

The onus falls on the offense to pick up the slack through game-planning, play-calling and performance.

Rookie Kerryon Johnson ought to get more touches – either more carries in the run game, or more targets as a receiver. He's shown that he's capable of carrying a bigger load.

Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones Jr. can form a legitimate 1-2 duo at wide receiver. Theo Riddick returning from a knee injury to focus primarily as a receiver. TJ Jones, rookie Brandon Powell or one of the tight ends might be a bigger part of the passing game.

And none of that might work.

Like Quin says, things happen all the time.

Stat to note: Tate's four top receiving games this season were eight catches against the Cowboys, and seven each against the Jets, 49ers and Seahawks. It's purely circumstantial and says nothing about his value, but all four games were losses.

Series history: The Lions have a 6-4 advantage in the last 10 games and had a three-game winning streak snapped in last season's loss on Thanksgiving Day. The Lions are 2-0 at U.S. Bank Stadium, winning 14-7 last season and 22-16 in 2016 on Tate's game-winning TD catch and run in overtime.

2017 look back: Ameer Abdullah ran for 94 yards and a touchdown in the Lions' 14-7 road win in Week 4. Abdullah would have ended the Lions' 100-yard individual rushing drought had he not gone out of the game in the second half with an injury.

Vikings rookie Dalvin Cook went out for the season with a knee injury. He had rushed for 66 yards against the Lions, giving him 354 for the season. He lost a fumble on the play in which he sustained the injury.

View photos from Lions-Vikings matchups in Minnesota through the years.

Vikings' Thielen, chasing Megatron: A 100-yard receiving game by Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen would give him the record for most consecutive games with at least 100 receiving yards.

Thielen is currently tied with retired Lions star Calvin Johnson, who had eight straight in 2012, the season he also set the NFL record for receiving yards in a season with 1,964.

Johnson had 1,128 yards in his eight-game streak, which ran from Games 8-15. His streak ended with 72 yards in a season-ending loss to the Bears. Thielen has 925 yards in the first eight games of this season.

Thielen was not in the mood to talk about the record after last week's loss to the Saints because of a costly fumble.

The Vikings were in the red zone with a 13-10 lead late in the first half when Thielen fumbled after a reception. Marshon Lattimore's recovery and long return put the Saints in position to score a touchdown and take the lead.

"I think I've said this every week for eight weeks in a row -- 100 yards don't mean anything unless you're winning games, unless you're helping the team win," Thielen told reporters. "I didn't do that tonight. You can't make mistakes in this league and win, especially in a critical situation when you have the ball in the red zone."

Prediction: With or without Tate, this figured to be a tough game. Minnesota's passing game is one of the league's best, and the Lions have struggled against lesser quarterbacks than Kirk Cousins. Don't expect the Lions to fold, but getting some injured players back helps the Vikings.

Pick: Vikings 26, Lions 20.

Related Content