You might think a 7-1 team coming off a bye and with a 3-game lead in its division might overlook a 1-7 opponent it had already beaten once during the season. But judging by the comments from Winter Park today, especially those from offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, the Vikings don’t appear to be falling into that trap.
On paper the Vikings-Lions matchup is more like a mismatch. But anyone who has watched this series lately knows the games tend to be close. The Vikings have dominated in the win column against Detroit in recent seasons, but most of those wins haven’t come easy. Even this year the Lions led Minnesota at halftime before the Vikings eventually pulled away and won by 14.
“Every time we’ve played Detroit, it’s been a dogfight,” Bevell said to reporters on Thursday. “Because obviously they’re a divisional opponent; we know each other in and out. We know personnel in and out. Any time you play division (opponent), I know it’s cliché to say, you really have to throw out the records and you have to bring your ‘A’ game.”
Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress said yesterday that he’s noted how hard the Lions are playing for new head coach Jim Schwartz. Bevell issued a similar sentiment when discussing the Vikings opponent this week.
“The one thing you can say about Detroit is they’re playing hard,” Bevell explained. “He’s (Lions Head Coach Jim Schwartz) got them flying around, particularly on defense. They’re tackling the ball well. I think they’re doing some good things, just not getting the end result that they’re looking for.”
Because the Vikings have a solid group of veterans leading the team, it would be a surprise to see them come out on Sunday without focus. Many of the Vikings core players have been through bye weeks before and rise to the challenge of regaining mid-season form immediately after a bye.
Increasing the likelihood that the Vikings will be sharp in their 1st game back from the bye is the fact that the coaching staff seems determined to not allow their players to overlook this particular 1-7 team.
“You have to make sure the guys are prepared; that they’re ready; that they know what they’re going to see,” Bevell insisted. “And they have to make sure that we play at an intensity level that they’re unwilling to match. We can’t say ‘hey, we have to play up to theirs.’ We have to set it and make them play at ours.”
Tags: Darrell Bevell
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