The Minnesota Vikings boast the NFL’s 10th-best offensive line through Week 13, according to Pro Football Focus.
And if the newfound trench prosperity is to continue at the Detroit Lions on Sunday, the team will likely do it without phenom second-year left tackle Christian Darrisaw. Per the Star Tribune‘s Ben Goessling, Darrisaw is expected to miss at least one more game because of a concussion suffered in Week 11.
Darrisaw is technically questionable for the showdown in Detroit, but Goessling confirmed late Saturday night, “The expectation is Blake Brandel will make another start at left tackle tomorrow against the Lions.”
Darrisaw was concussed in back-to-back games in Week 10 at Buffalo and Week 11 versus Dallas and since missed dates with the New England Patriots and New York Jets. The Vikings drafted Darrisaw in the 1st Round of the 2021 NFL, seeking to solidify the LT spot for the long-term for the first time since the days of Bryant McKinnie. With consecutive brain injuries, though, Minnesota is evidently taking the safe and righteous path with Darrisaw’s recovery.
Per PFF, Darrisaw is the NFL’s second-best offensive tackle through Week 13, only trailing San Francisco’s Trent Williams for the top spot. And among all offensive linemen not limited to tackles, Darrisaw is the league’s third-best OL commodity behind the aforementioned Williams and Atlanta Falcons guard Chris Lindstrom.
Brandel, Darrisaw’s temporary replacement, has performed somewhat admirably in the last two games. Against the Patriots on Thanksgiving, the young LT fired up a 55.2 PFF grade but improved with a 78.8 score versus the Jets last Sunday. He’ll get another audition in Detroit, assuming the Vikings don’t have a change of heart with Darrisaw before kickoff.
The Lions showcase one of the flimsiest pass rushes in the business, ranking dead last in the NFL through 13 weeks in ESPN’s pass-rush win rate (31%) metric. Detroit has logged the sixth-fewest sacks on opposing quarterbacks, averaging just 1.8 per game.
The Vikings are also expected to act cautiously with Harrison Smith, who is recovering from a neck injury. Josh Metellus is tentatively slated to make his second career start in Detroit in place of Smith. His first career start was back in Week 3 when Smith was out because of injury — against the same Lions.
Detroit is favored by two to defeat Minnesota.
Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).