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Jim Souhan

Jim Souhan analyzes the local sports scene

Vikings vs. Lions: Sloter and the receivers

There is no doubt that the Vikings should win today. They’re the superior team, and their strength this season has been getting off to fast starts against mediocre teams at U.S. Bank Stadium.

I won’t tell you how they can or should win, because those things are self-evident. I’ll tell you about the four players who could ruin their day if they Vikings aren’t careful.

Three of those players are Lions receivers. Detroit is putting out another mediocre product, but their receivers cause matchup problems, and the Vikings’ secondary remains a mystery.

Kenny Golladay is a big, physical receiver who can catch the ball in traffic, get open deep and run after the catch.

Marvin Jones remains a dangerous and underrated receiver, and he caught four touchdown passes against the Vikings last time they met.

Danny Amendola plays the modern role of smallish slot receiver well, and can be annoying effective.

The other player the Vikings have to worry about? Kyle Sloter.

Yup. Kyle Sloter.

Not to be paranoid, but wouldn’t it be a Viking-like result if Sloter, as the Lions’ new backup quarterback, came back to haunt them?

 

I do expect the Vikings to win, but this does have the markings of a classic trap game: The Vikings lost in emotional fashion against a physical team in Seattle on Monday night, didn’t land until Tuesday morning, then had to pretend they were worried about another bad Lions team.

My silly pick: Vikings 22, Lions 15.

Unless Sloter throws a touchdown pass to Jones on the last play of the game.

 

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Souhan: Vikings need to contain Wilson, minimize Seattle's big plays

I love Seattle. It has much of what San Francisco offers, in a smaller, easier-to-navigate setting.

The Mariners play in the best retractable-roof ballpark in America, and the Seahawks play in what might be the loudest outdoor stadium in America, and both are walking distance from downtown and Pike Place Market (the place where they throw the fish.)

This is a tough place to play, as you know, and while Pete Carroll and a dedicated fan base deserve much of the credit for that, I believe Russell Wilson deserves most of it.

When you watch Wilson, you are watching one of the great quarterbacks in NFL history, a combination of Fran Tarkenton and Patrick Mahomes. Wilson is a remarkable scrambler, a dynamic runner and a big-play passer who has thrived with a mediocre variety of receivers and an often-porous offensive line.

My guess is that the Vikings will try to play him the way they did in the 2015 playoff game at TCF Bank Stadium. Mike Zimmer’s defense spied on Wilson and tried to contain him with the pass rush, rather than going all-out for sacks, and that worked for three quarters.

The Vikings led, 9-0, entering the fourth, and then Captain Munnerlyn thought he had Wilson sacked on a blitz...and whiffed...and Wilson hit a long pass and the Seahawks rallied to win, 10-9.

The weather should be better tonight, but I believe the game plan will be the same: Contain Wilson, make him beat you from the pocket and hope that nobody misses a 27-yard field goal.

It will also be interesting to see how Carroll uses his backs.

Carson has had a dominating season despite fumbling problems, but last week Rashaad Penny rushed 14 times for 129 yards against Philadelphia and Carson rushed eight times for 26 yards.

Once we get to the stadium tonight, Ben Goessling, Andrew Krammer, Mark Craig and myself will have tonight’s inactives and other updates on startribune.com, and you can find game coverage there or in the Tuesday morning paper.

You can find my podcasts at TalkNorth.com

@Souhanstrib