The Lions get their first taste of division action this week as they head to Minnesota to take on the Vikings.
Quarterback Matthew Stafford knows they have a difficult task ahead when it comes to the Vikings' impressive defense.
"Everything you want out a defense, they do," Stafford said.
"They definitely present a bunch of challenges and it's not only their scheme, which is tough to prepare for, but their players as well. They've got a bunch of first-round draft picks on that defense, a bunch of really talented guys."
Everyone knows the Vikings' defense is good, but what you might not know is ... so is their offense! In a massive improvement from last year, the Vikings' offense is currently ranked second in the league.
"I'm not used to it, either," Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer said in a conference call interview this week. "I'm glad it is."
So what's behind the big improvement?
"They've really been exceptional," head coach Jim Caldwell said. "And I think from all across the board because of the fact that they're running the ball so well, that they're giving the hard play action's now with deep passes down the field, be it curls, corner routes, post patterns.
"And both No. 14 (Stefon Diggs) and No. 19 (Adam Thielen) are doing a tremendous job getting over the top behind people, and getting guys turned around. I think that starts with how well they're running the ball, that you have to honor the play-fakes."
For Mike O'Hara's full scouting report on the Vikings, click here.
In order to bring their best to the field against the Vikings, the Lions need to first move on from the devastating finish to last Sunday's Lions-Falcons showdown at Ford Field.
We just need to go back to work," Caldwell said Monday. "We'll see how we bounce back. The idea is to get it behind us as quickly as we can. A lot of that has to do with guys just making up their minds that it's over and done with.
"This is kind of part of this league. How do you handle it?"
Wide receiver Golden Tate, who was directly involved in the controversial finish, understands that looking ahead is the only way to go.
"Got to be," Tate said. "It's a long season. Time to put all our energy into Minnesota, which is the most important game on our schedule because it's the next game."
One of the biggest improvements we've seen from the Lions' defense this year is its ability to generate turnovers.
The defense credits preparation with the uptick in turnovers, whether that's extra drills in practice or more time in the film room, as was the case with safety Glover Quin's pick-six off Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan.
"Yeah, I saw it and when I saw the pre-snap, I kind of alerted (Darius) Slay that I was coming, and they snapped the ball and I kind of saw it clearly, so I just went," Quin said of the play after the game. "Trusted my preparation, tried to rely on communication and then just went."
OTHER NOTEWORTHY ITEMS:
- ICYMI: Kicker Matt Prater was named the NFC Special Teams Player of the Month for September.
- According to Jim Caldwell, left tackle Taylor Decker (PUP) is progressing toward a midseason return.
- Catch up on all the news from Teryl Austin's and Jim Bob Cooter's Thursday press conferences.
- Tim Twentyman takes a look at three surprise developments for each team in the NFC North.