Vikings-Lions matchup of the day: Thursday

Posted Dec. 08, 2011 @ 11:17 a.m.
Posted By Christian West

Here's a key matchup to watch in Sunday's Vikings-Lions game.

Lions run offense vs. Vikings run defense

The Lions have struggled running the ball all season, ranking 23rd in the league averaging 102.8 yards per game on the ground. Too often this season, the team has been one-dimensional, relying heavily on the arm of Matthew Stafford, who has thrown an average of 47 passes per game in the last four games, three of which were losses.

The Lions need to have more balance on offense to take some of the pressure off Stafford, who has thrown 10 interceptions in his last four games. RB Kevin Smith's status is in doubt after aggravating an ankle injury last Sunday. Maurice Morris would take the majority of the carries if Smith cannot play.

Whoever the tailback is, they will have to find success against the stout Vikings run defense. Even though they struggled a bit last week against Broncos RB Willis McGahee, the Vikings still rank seventh in the league in average gain per rush — allowing only 3.8 yards per carry on the season. The Vikings defense has gotten a boost from DT Kevin Williams, who struggled earlier in the season after returning from suspension and injury, but is now starting to play like the Pro Bowler he once was.