Vikings expecting Lions' aerial assault

It's not hard to figure out what Lions offensive coordinator Mike Martz will do Sunday against Minnesota. Martz loves to throw the ball, and he has plenty of people to throw to -- and he has plenty of reasons to throw it to them. Much more inside as Detroit preps for divisional rival Minnesota.

It's not hard to figure out what Lions offensive coordinator Mike Martz will do Sunday against Minnesota.

"I have no illusions about Mike going to line up in a phone booth and run the ball at us," Vikings coach Brad Childress said Wednesday. "I mean, he's going to spread us out and see what kind of damage he can do."

Martz loves to throw the ball, and he has plenty of people to throw to -- and he has plenty of reasons to throw it to them.

If the Lions can jump out to a lead, they can take the Vikings out of their game plan. The Vikings like to play low-scoring games. They like to win with their running game and defense. The Lions would love to make them use the arm of inexperienced gun-slinger Tavaris Jackson to play catch-up.

Jackson completed just 13 of 23 passes for 163 yards against Atlanta last week, 60 of which came on one screen pass to running back Adrian Peterson.

The Vikings will, however, present problems with its formidable pass defense -- including a physical front four, led by defensive tackle Pat Williams, and a solid secondary, led by cornerback Antoine Winfield.

Last year, the Vikings caused all kinds of trouble for the Lions, especially in the two team's first meeting. Williams stripped Jon Kitna and the fumble was recovered in the end zone for a touchdown, and linebacker E.J. Henderson returned an interception for a touchdown, as the Vikings came back from a 17-3 deficit to win, 26-17.

But the Lions are confident.

"They have a great collection of talent on their defense," Kitna said. "We have our work cut out for us, but we feel pretty good about who we are."

The Raiders defense ranked third overall last year, first against the pass, and the Lions scored 36 points Sunday at Oakland. The Raiders clamped down on wide receiver Roy Williams, but the Lions adjusted.

"Our best player's (Number) 11," Kitna said of Williams. "That's our best player. We're going to try to get him the football. That's point-blank. And if you do something that doesn't allow us to get him the football, we'll go to somebody else."

Kitna was speaking from experience.

Williams finished with only four catches for 20 yards and a touchdown. But Shaun McDonald caught six passes for 90 yards and a touchdown. Mike Furrey had five catches for 52 yards. And Calvin Johnson had four catches for 70 yards and a touchdown.

McDonald said the Lions expected the Raiders to play mostly man-to-man, because that's what the Raiders played against everyone last year. But the Raiders ended up playing a lot of Cover 2.

"That shows you respect," McDonald said. "All last year, they were manning up every team. So that shows you that we've got some weapons over here that they didn't think they could match up with."

SERIES HISTORY: 92nd meeting. Vikings lead series, 60-29-2. They have won the last 10, 14 of the last 15 and 16 of the last 18.

NOTEBOOK:

  • The Lions are trying to establish an advantage at Ford Field. "Winning at home is big in this league," Kitna said. "You almost have to assume that you're going to win at home. It has to become that kind of environment for you at home. Winning on the road is very difficult in this league, but if you protect your home ... I've always said it. If you go 8-0 at home, that gives you a great leg up."
  • Offensive coordinator Mike Martz moved Jon KItna around the pocket in the season opener. "He was trying to maximize my athletic ability," Kitna said, laughing. "We just want to give teams different looks, not always be in the same spot. It helps the offensive line. It helps us."
  • The Vikings like to win low-scoring games, relying on their running game and defense. The Lions don't want to let them chew up the clock, and coach Rod Marinelli talked to the team about it Wednesday. "If they can clock it on us and keep our offense off the field, that's what they'll do," Marinelli said. "We have got to go in and slam the run. ... We've got to take this run out."
  • Last year, defensive tackle Shaun Rogers dominated in the opener, then struggled because he wasn't in great shape and his body couldn't recover. This year, Rogers dominated in the opener, but he has recovered much better because the Lions limited his snaps and have worked to get him into better shape. "He is really strong," Marinelli said. "That's what I feel pretty good about right now."

    QUOTE TO NOTE:

    "I think New England did that last year to us, as a matter of fact. Let's put that out there." -- QB Jon Kitna, joking that the Patriots tapped into his headset frequency last season.

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