|National Football League|
With Keenum or Bradford, Vikings plan to be ready for Lions
MINNEAPOLIS -- As the Minnesota Vikings waded through the uncertainty at quarterback, Case Keenum gave the team a big lift in last week's win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Keenum matched Sam Bradford's stellar Week 1 performance with a 75.8 completion percentage, 369 passing yards and three touchdowns without a turnover.
Bradford, in winning player of the week, threw for 346 yards and three touchdowns without a turnover in Week 1 with an 84.4 completion percentage.
Statistically, it has been impossible to tell the difference between the two quarterbacks in two home games. Their teammates have only noticed a slight difference.
"I made a joke, I think the only difference is that you can see Sam in the pocket, and you can't see Case very well back there," tight end Kyle Rudolph said jokingly to the team's website. "But no, they both throw great balls.
"They both had incredible success throwing the football, and when we block teams up and let them sit back there with time, we have guys on the outside that are going to get open."
Bradford has missed the past two games with an unspecified knee injury. He was held out Wednesday as Minnesota (2-1) returned to practice in preparation for Sunday's home game against the Detroit Lions (2-1).
"I'm giving him the day off today, but we are doing everything we can to get him ready to play Sunday," Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said. "We are just giving him one more day to rest."
No matter who has been at quarterback, Minnesota's offense hasn't missed a beat and surprisingly sits second in the league in total yards with 400.3 per game.
The Vikings' maligned offensive line -- with former Detroit draft pick Riley Reiff at left tackle -- has given up the fourth-fewest sacks per pass play in the NFL.
Rookie running back Dalvin Cook is second in the league with 288 rushing yards. Receivers Adam Thielen (299 yards) and Stefon Diggs (293 yards) are second and third, respectively, in the league in receiving yardage.
"They are taking shots and throwing the ball down the field and giving those guys opportunities to make plays," Detroit safety Glover Quin told the team's website. "A lot of time in the past they were a bunch of quick throws, short throws, but they are throwing the ball down the field and those guys are making plays, so you have to expect that to continue."
The Lions are known as the big-play offense of the two familiar NFC North opponents. But Detroit has been efficient offensively without big games from quarterback Matt Stafford and has been strong defensively.
Just 17th in the NFL in offensive yards per game, the Lions are seventh in the league in points per game.
"They are running the ball good," Zimmer said of Detroit. "The two running backs they have are very explosive and quick. Matt Stafford scrambles around a lot. He is averaging eight yards per carry. They have weapons on the outside and their tight ends are good, so it is a good football team."
One reason the Lions haven't compiled league-leading yardage totals is the work of the defense. Detroit is tied for second in the NFL with eight takeaways, including seven interceptions.
The takeaways have helped the Lions to an NFL-best plus-six turnover-margin.
"They do a good job of getting pressure on the quarterback," Zimmer said. "They play tight in coverage. They are very well coached scheme-wise, fundamentally sound, and they are around the football so they end up getting a lot of picks."
While Bradford's status is likely to linger to the end of the week, Detroit is also dealing with its own injury concerns.
Starting defensive end Ziggy Ansah (knee) and guard T.J. Lang (fibula) didn't practice Wednesday. Rookie linebacker Jarrad Davis (concussion), starting safeties Quin (knee) and Tavon Wilson (shoulder), and center Travis Swanson were all limited in practice.
Sunday marks the first division game for each team. The Lions have had the better of the recent meetings, winning eight of the past 14 games between the teams, including a sweep last season.
The two wins last year were by a combined nine points and only four of the past 14 games between the teams have been decided by double digits.
"We're going to have to play better than we did last week, I think, offensively in order for us to beat these guys on the road," Lions receiver Golden Tate told the team's website.
Minnesota is allowing the third-fewest rushing yards per game this season and came through with its first three takeaways of the season in beating Tampa Bay.
"Everything you want out a defense, they do," Stafford told the team's website, adding, "Not a whole lot of blown assignments on film. ... They're in the right place at the right time. They know how to make in-game, in-play adjustments.
"They play fast and physical. Everything you'd want out of a defense, they do."
Updated September 27, 2017