Pretty simple. The Vikings need to control the game on the ground with Adrian Peterson. The Lions play a 4-3 with wide gaps that put a lot of heat on linebackers to flow and make sound tackles. Peterson, of course, is tough to bring down, and TE Jim Kleinsasser has been a beast lining up as a lead fullback on some plays this season.
The Lions don't run the ball particularly well, so the Vikings should be able to stop the run en route to chasing QB Matthew Stafford. Good safety play deep against WR Calvin Johnson and sound tackling on the perimeter vs. WR Nate Burleson is a must defensively.
The Vikings defense will test the Lions' patience on offense. The Vikings take away the back end with a lot of two-deep coverage. The Lions are going to have to be content to move the ball in short chunks and not try to throw into the teeth of that coverage. In the past, QB Matthew Stafford would try to force deep balls. He's been better at taking what the defense gives so far this season.
Defensively, the Lions' biggest worry will be RB Adrian Peterson and the Vikings' short passing game. Expect them to bring one of the safeties, Louis Delmas or Amari Spievey, into the box. The Lions have also deployed the nickel package against the short passing game this year.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH
Vikings RB Adrian Peterson, who's averaging 6.5 yards per carry with two touchdowns in the first half, vs. Lions MLB Stephen Tulloch, a compact and quick player who has a team-high two forced fumbles – For a big back, Peterson can slip through cracks up front. And once he does, he's tough to bring down because he has the quick feet, the burst and the power to get through tackles in a number of different ways. OLB Justin Durant, the Lions' leading tackler, also needs to be active and not over-pursue because Peterson's cutback can lead to touchdowns in a hurry. Tulloch, Durant and Levy will be on high alert. The Chiefs had success early running the ball at the edges of the Lions' defense. After a minor adjustment, the linebackers got more involved and the problem was solved. Peterson had 160 yards rushing in the Vikings win last year; he was limited to 31 yards.
Vikings CB Antoine Winfield, who has a team-high 18 solo tackles, vs. Lions WR Nate Burleson, who has a team-high 12 receptions – Burleson, the former Viking, makes people miss after the catch. So with the Vikings' Tampa-2 scheme designed to take away Calvin Johnson deep, Minnesota has to get Burleson on the ground once he catches those dangerous bubble screens. Winfield has been one of the league's best tacklers for a number of years, but he's missed four tackles in two weeks. He plays in the slot in the nickel, so he'll be seeing plenty of those bubble screens to Burleson.
Lions LG Rob Sims and C Dominic Raiola vs. Vikings DT Kevin Williams – Williams is back after serving his suspension and you can expect him to be loaded for bear. There is no love lost between the Lions offensive line and the Vikings' defensive line. The Vikings last year accused RG Stephen Peterman of playing dirty.
Vikings-Bucs game plan
Viking Update Top Stories
Cutler returns, praising Vikings defenseBears QB Jay Cutler is returning to action and expects some rust, but he has immense respect for the Minnesota Vikings defense.
Viking UpdateYesterday at 2:43 PM
VIDEO: Bradford breaks down offensive issuesWhile Sam Bradford has generally had an impressive start to his time with the Minnesota Vikings, that didn't translate last week. He discusses the offensive struggles against the…
Viking UpdateYesterday at 2:33 PM
VIDEO: Zimmer blasts report, talks BearsMinnesota Vikings coach Mike Zimmer defends his character after an erroneous report that was later corrected went viral, but Zimmer settled in to talk Bears mostly on Thursday.
Viking UpdateYesterday at 1:39 PM
Vikings look to turn the pageComing off their first loss of the season, the Minnesota Vikings are looking to shake the label of being soft and get back to their winning ways at Soldier Field Monday, a place…
Viking UpdateYesterday at 12:28 PM