Detroit Lions: No surprises among inactives; Treadwell out for Vikings

MInnesota still in playoff hunt

DETROIT >> While the Lions (5-9) are out of playoff contention, today’s game at Ford Field has playoff implications for the Vikings (6-7-1). If they win and the Eagles lose or tie with the Texans, Minnesota earns a wild-card berth.

No surprise that quarterback Matthew Stafford, who has a back injury, will start his 127th consecutive game. Stafford was limited in practice again this week. The Vikings sacked him 10 times in their meeting on Nov. 4 which was won 26-9 by Minnesota.

Cornerback Jamal Agnew (knee), who has not played since Oct. 7, is active against the Vikings while Teez Tabor is inactive after playing last week.

Running back LeGarrette Blount (calf), wide receiver Kenny Golladay (chest), defensive tackle Damon Harrison Sr. (ankle) and linebacker Devon Kennard (hip) were listed as questionable on Friday but all are active.

On Saturday the LIons placed WR Bruce Ellington (hamstring) and S Charles Washington (hamstring) on injured reserve and and signed WR Chris Lacy and CB Dee Virgin to the active roster from the practice squad.

Other Lions inactives: Linebacker Nicholas Grigsby, DE Kerry Hyder, C Leo Koloamatangi, OL Andrew Donnal, CB Dee Virgin and WR Chris Lacy.

Vikings inactives: WR Laquon Treadwell (healthy), QB Kyle Sloter, CB Craig James, RB MIke Boone, LB Eric Kendricks, G Danny Isidora and DE Tashawn Bower.

Kickoff at 1 p.m. on FOX with Chris Myers, Daryl Johnston and Laura Okmin.

Five things to watch as Detroit Lions host Minnesota Vikings; plus prediction

Vikings still in wild-card hunt

ALLEN PARK — While the Detroit Lions have eliminated themselves from the playoffs, the Minnesota Vikings have control of their playoff destiny.

If the Vikings beat the Lions on Sunday at Ford Field and the Eagles tie or lose to the Texans, Minnesota will earn a wild-card playoff berth.

This game does mean something, just not to the Lions.

Technically, coach Matt Patricia says the LIons are still trying to improve over the final two games. So the game means something moving forward.

“(The Vikings are) a team that formed extremely well last week against the Dolphins and in all the changes that they had up there. They obviously played the game exactly how they wanted to and they’re in a great position and trying to come down here and keep working towards the rest of their season,’’ Patricia said. “So, we have a big challenge in front of us and we have to do a great job of going out and trying to give ourselves a chance to win. It’ll be a good week for us to go out and try to get better.”

Five things to watch:

1. Protect Matthew Stafford. In the Vikings 24-9 win on Nov. 4, he was sacked 10 times. That came at the hands of the starting five — Taylor Decker, Frank Ragnow, Graham Glasgow, T.J. Lang and Rick Wagner. Lang and Wagner are out, likely to be replaced again by Kenny Wiggins and Tyrell Crosby. Stafford’s sacks are not all on the offensive line but the percentage is high. “Plenty of really good rushers, good cover guys, kind of a really unique defensive scheme that creates problems with their blitzes. The challenge level is very high for us, that’s a big part of the game,’’ offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter said. “Obviously, last time I did not do a good enough job of putting our guys in a good position to sort of play these guys.’’ He said the Lions won’t win every matchup against the Vikings but they have to scratch and claw to win each one.

2. Keep feeding the ball to Kenny Golladay. Seems like a no-brainer but it doesn’t always happen. Stafford has to trust the big guy, Golladay has to keep coming down with the ball and Cooter and Matt Patricia must get him involved in the game from the get-go. Golladay had a career high 146 receiving yards in the win at Buffalo on Sunday. Since he’s had more targets with Marvin Jones Jr., out, the defenses have focused in on him. “That could be coverage type, that could be two defenders finding their way near you a little more often than other times, or maybe a certain corner that’s a really good player finding his way to cover you more often,’’ Cooter said. “Kenny’s been competing and battling, and stats are stats, but at the end of the day Kenny is competing really hard to improve and get better. We’re seeing those strides.’’

3. Stop Vikings running back Dalvin Cook and the run game. In the previous match-up, the defense did a good job containing Cook except for one breakout run of 70 yards. Other than that he had nine carries for 19 yards. They’ve improved their run stopping and much of it started with that game with the addition of Damon “Snacks” Harrison who has made his presence known on the defensive line.

4.  Along with stopping the run game, they have to control quarterback Kirk Cousins and the passing game. They were semi-successful in the first game holding Cousins to 164 passing yards with one touchdown and one interception. The Lions were successful in holding wide receiver Adam Thielen to four catches for 22 yards in the first match-up. “Since then and really, almost every week now, Adam’s drawn an awful lot of attention with some double coverages and things like that. So, we’re going to have to figure out a way to help him out,’’ Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said on a conference call.

5. Don’t look for players to sit just because the Lions are out of the playoffs. “I think the thing is the NFL is a violent sport and when you step in between those white lines, it’s something that every player that’s out on the field has to deal with and they understand that there’s a risk of injury,’’ Patricia said. “But, we’re certainly never going to put somebody out there and put them in an injury situation where they can’t perform and put themselves in a situation where they can’t protect themselves if that was an issue. So, for us, if a guy is ready to go and they’re healthy and they can go out and perform and help us win then that’s what we’re going to go try to do.’’

Prediction: Vikings 28, Lions 17

Lions’ CB Darius Slay excited for second straight Pro Bowl trip

His kids may even be happier

ALLEN PARK >> Darius Slay’s kids are so excited that their dad made the Pro Bowl for the second straight year, that they created a “Daddy Made the Pro Bowl” dance.

The three kids display quite the moves on Slay’s Instagram My Story. It’s not that their dad has been voted as one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL, as much as that it’s in Orlando and a trip to Disney World is part of the package.

“My kids are already hyped up … They’re ready. They’re already packed,’’ Slay said on Wednesday.

He is hyped too. Now in his sixth season, Slay longed to make it to the top echelon of NFL cornerbacks since he was a rookie. Back-to-back Pro Bowl nods show that others have noticed.

“It was a great honor, felt good, let me know folks are watching film and understanding and, like I said, I was excited and ready,’’ Slay said.

His numbers are down from last season when he had eight interceptions and 26 pass defenses. This season, with two games remaining, he has three interceptions and 15 pass defenses.

“My play been good, I had a couple few plays here, a few plays there, I had a few plays last year too,’’ Slay said. “Other than the picks, I think I played pretty well. Competing all the time at a high level.’’

Also this season, he scored his first touchdown returning an interception at Arizona two weeks ago. He was holding that football when he talked to the media on Wednesday and said it was going in a special place with his other memorabilia.

Slay has kept up his energy despite the Lions’ 5-9 record so far.

“Got great guys in the room I’ve got to go to war with, I enjoy going to war with, have fun doing it,’’ Slay said. “That’s how I keep it up.’’

He’s also happy that teammate Quandre Diggs has been voted as a Pro Bowl alternate.

“I thought it should be more but that’s how everybody sees it. Quandre is playing at an elite level and at 5-2 1/2 so that should give him more nod,’’ Slay said. “I’m proud of him, he works hard, One thing I know he’s going to go 100 percent every game.’’

Slay enjoys making fun of Digg’s height. He’s officially listed at 5-foot-9. He gets the job done with two interceptions, one touchdown, seven pass defenses and 55 tackles so far this season.

The Pro Bowl will be played on Jan. 27, the Sunday before the Super Bowl.

The Vikings, who are fighting for a wild-card playoff berth, are the next challenge for the Lions. Kickoff is at 1 p.m. on Sunday in the Lions final home game this season.

(Photo courtesy of Detroit Lions)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Five things to know about Lions WR Kenny Golladay after his career game

Second-year receiver surpassed 1,000 yards for season

ALLEN PARK — Kenny Golladay’s personal goals this season, are so personal he wouldn’t even tell his mom what numbers he set for himself.

The Detroit Lions wide receiver had a career game in the 14-13 loss at Buffalo on Sunday with 146 yards which tipped him over the 1,000 receiving yard mark (1,005) for the season.

“That’s huge you come into the season with goals and once you pass a goal, or try to break that. We’ve got two games left and just trying to add on to it,’’ Golladay said on Monday.

The second-year receiver said his goals were set before Golden Tate was traded to the Eagles and while Marvin Jones Jr. was still healthy.

“It’s different the goals I did set. I kind of blew those out of the water, which is good. It just gives these coaches an opportunity to see what I can do myself without the help of other guys around me,’’ said Golladay who still sets the bar high for himself.

Five things to know about Golladay:

1. He is trying to take advantage of being the No. 1 receiver.  “Really I just look at it like this, with Marv being out it was just more for me to prove to these coaches, like I am able to produce without those guys being the main focus for the defense. With me being pretty much the No. 1, I’m just happy to make the plays that they call,’’ Golladay said.

2. Because he’s the top receiver, he’s been able to develop more chemistry with quarterback Matthew Stafford. “Actually I think it’s pretty good, it kind of brings us together. He trusts I’m going to be in the spot that I’m supposed to be in and I’m going to be in the spot I’m supposed to be in,’’ Golladay said.

3. Several of his seven catches at Buffalo came with defenders as close as they could be to him without getting called for interference. But he wouldn’t say he needs to work on getting separation. “A catch is a catch, it really doesn’t matter,’’ Golladay said. “You’re not going to get much separation in the NFL. To say creating separation is something I need to get better at, I went 7 for 8 (targets).’’

4. He can’t pinpoint one thing that he has improved on this season it’s more his overall game. “All-around pretty much, just having one year under my belt, this is Year 2,’’ Golladay said. “Really just staying on top of my body. I’m fortunate to have not missed games, I want to keep that going.’’

5. Even though the Lions are out of the playoffs, they have two more games starting Sunday at home against the Vikings. In the final two games he said the offense has to stay together. “The season isn’t going how we wanted it to at all. Do it in these last two games, pretty much try to do it for next year, that’s pretty much what you have to do and run up the scoreboard,’’ Golladay said. “We’ve showed flashes good and bad, but we have to continue to work.’’

(Photo courtesy of Detroit Lions)

Five reasons Detroit Lions lost to Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills

Lions scoreless in 2nd half for 1st time this season

Any slim chance the Detroit Lions had to make the playoffs are absolutely gone after their 14-13 loss to the Bills at Buffalo on Sunday. Detroit drops to 5-9 in its first year under coach Matt Patricia.

The Lions came up short on offense, defense and special teams — it was an all-around team loss.

The Lions led 13-7 at the half, but were held scoreless in the second half for the first time all season.

Five of the biggest reasons the Lions lost:

1. This loss doesn’t all hang on special teams, but certainly they shoulder part of the blame. Matt Prater snapped his strong of 14 straight field goals on a 48-yard attempt that sailed wide right. That fourth-quarter attempt would have given the Lions a 16-14 lead. In the second quarter, a botched snap by Don Muhlbach forced holder Sam Martin to throw the ball away.

2. The Lions’ defense knew that quarterback Josh Allen could be a handful since the rookie can probably run the ball better than he can pass it. Yet, they could not stop him. His 42-yard touchdown pass to Robert Foster in the fourth quarter proved to be the game winner. Allen was 13 of 26 for 204 yards. He also connected with Foster for with passes of 28 yards and 31 yards. Allen finished with just nine carries for 16 yards, but that included a 3-yard touchdown scamper.

3. Detroit’s defense had stepped up big stopping the run in recent weeks (with the exception of the Rams’ Todd Gurley), but couldn’t get the job done Sunday. The Bills were without their top running backs, LeSean McCoy and Chris Ivory. Then backup Marcus Murphy was injured early to they were forced to rely on rookie Keith Ford who was playing in his first game. Detroit’s defense allowed 117 rushing yards.

4. Matthew Stafford and Jim Bob Cooter’s offense sputtered in the second half after a so-so first half in which they led 13-7. Stafford was hurting with a bad back entering the game and early on came up limping with an injury to his left knee. He completed 75.9 percent of his passes (22-29) for 208 yards and a touchdown to Andy Jones. Once again, the tempo and play-calling were in question.

5. Wide receiver Kenny Golladay had 4 catches for 115 yards (a career high) in the first half. So why didn’t they go to him in the second half more often? He had just three catches for 31 yards in the second half. He is not Calvin Johnson, but he is an athletic, tall receiver who has a decent chance of coming down with the ball if it’s thrown in his immediate vicinity. It’s a head-scratcher the way he is used in this offense overall. He should have a much bigger role. With his 146 yards he topped the 1,000-yard mark for the season with 1,005.

NEXT UP: Minnesota Vikings (6-6-1) at Lions (5-9) at 1 p.m. on Sunday at Ford Field. The Vikings defeated the Dolphins, 41-17 Sunday.

(Photo courtesy of Detroit Lions)

 

Five things to watch as Detroit Lions face Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills

Bills can’t be taken lightly

So there’s a slim chance the Detroit Lions could still make the playoffs.

To do so the Lions (5-8)  need plenty of help, plus they have to win their final three games starting today at the Buffalo Bills (4-9).

Safety Glover Quin admitted that of course he’s seen the scenarios.

“I’m not blind I’m not oblivious to the fact, I’m not dumb either. I can look at the record and . I kind of knew it before everybody started making a big deal out of it, I saw it unfolding,’’ Quin said.

“For us, none of that stuff matters if we don’t take care of our business so we’ve got to win out, we’ve got to prepare and get ready to beat Buffalo, we get that done then we move on to the next one,’’ Quin said. “None of those scenarios matter if we don’t take care of our business.’’

Five things to watch:

1. The big key is to stop the Bills’ running game, the bread and butter of its offense. Buffalo has run for at least 165 yards in four straight games. If they reach that number against Detroit it will be a streak not matched since 1975.

2. Keep quarterback Josh Allen one dimensional. He is the leading rusher with 490 yards, averaging 7.4 yards per carry. It’s a strength for the rookie who has thrown five touchdowns and nine interceptions. Stop the run and force him to pass. He owns a completion rate of just 52.4 percent with five passing touchdowns and nine interceptions. In Sunday’s 27-23 loss to the Jets, Allen carried nine times for 101 yards and a touchdown, threw two interceptions and completed 50 percent of his passes. “Obviously a very dangerous guy. He’s right up there with a lot of the other great running quarterbacks in the league right now,’’ coach Matt Patricia said. “We’ve seen a couple this year, but he’s doing a phenomenal job right now of just turning those really nothing plays into some really big or just huge plays for the offense.’’

3. Lions offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter and quarterback Matthew Stafford have to find a way to beat the Bills’ passing defense which has held teams to less them 170 passing yards for five straight games (winning two of them). Stafford threw for just 101 yards on Sunday in the win over Arizona, his lowest output of the season. He’s averaging 245.2 yards per game. Stafford has been limited in practice all week but will play through his back pain. Wide receiver Bruce Ellington, who has stepped up with Marv Jones Jr., out, will not play due to a hamstring injury.

4. Running back Kerryon Johnson will miss his fourth straight game, but the Lions have run for more than 100 yards in each of the three games without him using a combination of LeGarrette Blount, Theo Riddick and Zach Zenner. It will be interesting to see if Zenner gets more opportunity after a solid effort in the win at the Cardinals (12 carries, 54 yards, 1 touchdown).

5. The Lions defense has been playing well overall and must keep it up despite playing without defensive ends Ziggy Ansah (who is done for the season) and Da’Shawn Hand (knee). These Bills can’t be taken lightly.

PREDICTION: Lions 24, Bills 21

Lions running back Zach Zenner makes most of his 12 carries in win at Cardinals

Scored first touchdown in 14 monthes

Zach Zenner snapped his 14-month scoreless streak when he ran in from 1 yard out for a touchdown in Sunday’s 17-3 win over the Cardinals at Arizona. His last touchdown had been on Oct. 5, 2017, in a loss to Carolina.

It’s not that the Detroit Lions running back gets many opportunities. Typically he does not. In the other four games he’s played on offense this season he’s had a combined four carries. He’s averaging 5.1 yards per carry.

Zenner’s dozen carries on Sunday were the most for him since the 2016 season when he had three games with 12 or more touches. In the final two regular season games that year he had a combined 32 carries and three touchdowns. In the playoff loss at Seattle he had 11 touches.

Seven of his 12 carries at Arizona came in a four-minute, fourth-quarter drive where the Lions were trying to eat up the clock. Zenner was responsible for 42 of the 75 yards on that drive and the touchdown that put the game out of touch for the Cardinals.

“I think Zach, again, he’s one of those guys that does a phenomenal job of just preparing and being ready to go, whatever the situation is. He goes out and plays a lot of special teams for us and he does a lot of different things that can help us win or can help us win in special teams and also on the offensive side of the ball,’’ coach Matt Patricia said on his Monday conference call. “So, certainly he had an opportunity to go out and have a couple plays, which he did really well.’’

Zenner also plays on special teams where he was in on 71 percent of the special teams snaps on Sunday.

(Photo courtesy of Detroit Lions)

An undrafted free agent signed in 2015, he was let go with an injury settlement in early September this year. When he wasn’t working on getting his back healthy, he was studying for his medical school entrance exam and hoping for a phone call. When his back was healed and he was ready to go, the Lions brought him back.

Good thing, since Kerryon Johnson has missed the last three games due to a knee injury. Zenner is not LeGarrette Blount or Theo Riddick, but he can be effective when he gets a chance. Funny how that goes.