Vikings know past domination means little

The Vikings absolutely dominate the series against the Detroit Lions, but somehow Detroit always finds a way to make it difficult. This time, the Lions appear to be better than they have been since Minnesota's domination really kicked in. Vikings players have experienced both ends of the streaky NFL before.

The Vikings have been installed as a double-digit favorite against the Detroit Lions for Sunday. Considering that the Vikings have scored only 19 points in two games, it begs the question as to why the Vikings would be such a prohibitive favorite? It is likely because of the dominance of the recent rivalry between the teams.

To call what the Vikings have with the Lions a "rivalry" is akin to the rivalry that exists between a hammer and a nail. Few matchups have been as thoroughly dominated as the Vikings-Lions series. The Vikings have won five straight meetings, 15 of the last 16 and 19 of the last 21 games. They haven't won at the Metrodome since 1997, when Brett Favre was known as a fresh young face in the NFL. It has been as one-sided a rivalry as there is in the NFL.

Yet the Vikings aren't taking the 0-2 Lions for granted. Despite their lack of success in the last few years, the Lions have found a way to make things difficult on the Vikings.

"This is going to be a tough one," cornerback Antoine Winfield said. "Everyone thinks because it's the Detroit Lions that we're expected to win. But they've improved a lot. We need to prepare and come out and play well to beat them."

The Lions have been one of the hapless franchises in the league, but the Vikings have needed safeties, last-second field goals and defensive stands to continue their series dominance. It would seem that nothing comes easy against a team that so many others have found so easy to defeat.

"You can't just assume you're going to win," linebacker E.J. Henderson said. "They're a team that is a lot better than their record would indicate. A play here or a play there and they could be 2-0 and we'd be the one that people were saying would be the underdog. You don't want to be the team that lets them get the win they're looking for. They can throw everything at us, because they don't have as much to lose. It puts pressure on us to play better."

Fortunately for the Vikings, they have had their share of success against all of the division rivals, but a couple of their players have been on the wrong side of a lopsided series domination. Jared Allen began his career with the Kansas City Chiefs and he found himself in the middle of a series domination in which his team was on both sides. Head to Denver and the Chiefs would consistently lay an egg. Face the Silver and Black and they were almost unbeatable.

"When I was with Kansas City, we could never beat Denver in Denver," Allen said. "In (then-Kansas City coach Herm Edwards) first year, we were tied 6-6 in overtime. We thought we were finally going to beat them. Then Ty Law, of all people, slipped and they got a long touchdown to win the game. We were on the other side of that with Oakland. We would never lose to Oakland. It's hard to say why it is, but there are certain teams that just seem to have their number. We haven't had it easy with Detroit. They always play us tough. We've won games on last-second field goals. We've trailed late to win games. I've always said Detroit is better than their record would tell you they are."

Allen's Chiefs were also able to dominate San Diego at home, which wasn't good news for then-Charger Ben Leber. He was convinced his team was better than Kansas City, but Arrowhead Stadium was house of horrors for the Chargers, who could never find a way to win.

"There was a time when we hadn't won in Arrowhead in a long time," Leber said. "You used to walk in and every time you think you've got an opportunity to get a win, either you shoot yourself in the foot or they capitalize on an opportunity. But, that was only when we were played there. I can only imagine what it's been like for Detroit, but it hasn't seemed to matter whether it was here or in their place."

As the Vikings set to prepare for their final game before the bye week, they need a win in the worst way simply to get the ball of momentum moving in their favor. Given their track record against Detroit, the Lions would appear to be the ideal opponent for getting a "W" on the board. But the Vikings refuse to take Detroit lightly, because they know how close the Lions have come to knocking them off in the past and they would love nothing more than to help deliver a serious early blow to the Vikings' division title hopes.

"We know how good they are," linebacker Chad Greenway said. "People are saying the Bears are the hottest team in the league and I'm convinced the Lions should have won that game on that touchdown that wasn't allowed at the end on a controversial call. They're a good football team. They have a lot talent, they're playing hard and they're hungry. We have to be ready for them, because they're stronger than they're given credit for. They aren't that far away from being a very good team and we have to take care of our business to make sure that any momentum that comes out of this game is momentum for us."

John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.

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