FBG says: Good matchup. Although the Minnesota Vikings struggled through the air last Monday night, they remain one of the NFL's most efficient passing attacks in spite of their low volume. Considering the Vikings have one of the league's most run-heavy offenses, Kirk Cousins has been extremely impressive in his little action airing the ball out, especially when his receiving corps is at full-strength. The Vikings have been without Adam Thielen in recent weeks, as he recovers from a hamstring injury that has hampered him for the better part of two months, which has lead to increased volume for Stefon Diggs and Kyle Rudolph through the air. Diggs' increased volume has not directly translated into production in recent weeks, but his underlying metrics are promising, and he should see significant improvement in the near future. Kyle Rudolph, although an afterthought early in the season, is finally making his presence felt, especially around the end zone, with at least five targets and a touchdown in five out of his last six games. Should Thielen return to action in Week 14, the overall efficiency of this unit should spike back up to near-league-high levels; however, the target totals for players like Diggs and Rudolph may decrease slightly to make room for the top-end pass-catcher.
Detroit's pass defense has defended the seventh-most pass attempts this season, allowing stunningly-high efficiency totals through the air. The Lions have allowed the 3rd-most passing yards this season, while also permitting a 25-to-5 touchdown-to-interception ratio, one of the league's worst. They have allowed multiple touchdown passes in 9 out of 12 games this season, including a 338-yard and 3-touchdown performance to Mitchell Trubisky and the Bears' struggling passing-attack last week. The Detroit pass defense is one of the league's worst from top-to-bottom, with only one significant play-maker taking the field regularly. Trey Flowers, the team's marquee offseason signing, has recently found a groove pressuring opposing quarterbacks, with five sacks in his last five games. Unfortunately, Flowers has received little support elsewhere, as many of the team's previously-strong pass-defenders have seen their production tail off in 2019. Darius Slay, a cornerback that was previously hailed as one of the league's best coverage players, has fallen off significantly this season, with his reputation far exceeding his on-field production. Overall, the Lions' pass defense is one of the league's worst, and in a tough matchup against the Vikings' strong passing attack, they should be overmatched in Week 14. Expect Kirk Cousins and company to get back on track after a poor showing on Monday Night Football last week, as they should shred the Lions through the air this weekend.