This coming Sunday the Minnesota Vikings face divisional foe the Detroit Lions, and it will be up to Matt Cassel and the passing game to lead the Vikings offense. The Lions rank as one of the best run defenses in the NFL, and it’s pretty clear why as they have Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley anchored in the middle of their defensive line. This means Adrian Peterson will likely have a tough day which puts even more pressure on Cassel to perform.
When these teams squared off in Week 1 of the NFL season it was the Lions who walked away with the victory, but Peterson did his part for the Vikings by rushing for 93 yards and two scores. That was a healthy Peterson, however, and now that he’s been battling a groin and foot injury in recent weeks he hasn’t been nearly as effective. There’s also been talk that Peterson may sit out the Vikings’ last regular season game, but considering it’s the last one at the Metrodome and Peterson say’s he wants to play, I expect to see No. 28 on the field come Sunday.
While the Lions allow just 94 rushing yards against per game — fourth in the NFL — they rank near the bottom of the league in passing yards allowed giving the Vikings hope that Cassel will perform well. With a record of 4-10-1 the Vikings’ season is clearly ending after this Week 17 matchup, but with the quarterback depth for next season looking spotty, this is Cassel’s last chance to show he can be the team’s starter in 2014.
Last Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals was one of Cassel’s worst performances of the season as he completed just 48 percent of his passes and turned the ball over a total of four times. The run game was nearly nonexistent last week as well as the team ran for just 115 yards, 35 of which came on a Cordarrelle Patterson run with just minutes remaining.
With the Vikings struggling to have a consistent run game last week and the passing attack struggling because of it, this weekend’s matchup doesn’t appear to be one that favors the purple and gold. This Sunday, however, could make Cassel the favorite to start next season as the team’s first-string QB and may even affect how the Vikings approach the quarterback position in the coming draft. Don’t count out the nine-year veteran just yet as he’s surrounded by plenty of receiving talent and an improving offensive line.