No Cook, No Problem: Vikings’ Alexander Mattison has proven he can harm the Lions
It’s a toss-up whether Dalvin Cook will play in the upcoming Detroit Lions-Minnesota Vikings game. The Vikings’ running back suffered a torn labrum during their 34-26 loss to the 49ers this past Sunday. Currently, conflicting reports are surrounding his health. On Monday, Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer stated Cook’s injury status is “day-to-day.” If Cook is out this Sunday, the Lions’ defense will still have their hands full. And that’s because of Alexander Mattison.
In the Vikings’ last two victories over the Lions, Dalvin Cook did not start. He was out both games due to injury. Alexander Mattison started in his place both times.
And he wasn’t a slouch. He was a real thorn in their side this season and last.
During a Week 16, 37-35 victory over the Lions last season, Mattison led the Vikings rushing attack with 21 carries for 95 yards and one touchdown. In the Lions’ Week 5 heartbreaker loss to the Vikings, Mattison rushed for 113 yards on 25 carries and grabbed one receiving touchdown. He averaged 4.52 yards on the ground in both games.
Let’s even take it one step further.
Last season in a Week 9, 34-20 Vikings victory over Lions, Mattison was an efficient backup before those two starts mentioned above. He had 12 carries for 69 yards.
But wait, there’s more.
In his three-year career, Mattison has rushed for over 65 yards only five times. Three of those times are the referenced games against the Lions.
To bring this full circle, the Detroit Lions are one of the NFL’s worst teams stopping the run. And it’s been like that most of the season. They’re 29th in rushing yards allowed, with teams averaging 134 yards on the ground per game against them. The Lions’ defense will have its hands full as the Vikings are averaging 114 rushing yards per game this season.
Alexander Mattison has experienced losing games in his NFL career, but he’s never been on a Vikings team that lost to the Lions. Sunday might not be any different.