Vikings-Lions Game Plan

The Vikings defense will be looking to rebound from a lackluster performance on the road. Being at home and facing a less accomplished offense should help. The Lions are bringing a banged-up defense into the Metrodome. Get the news, matchups and injuries from both camps.


A week after getting ripped apart by Carolina's passing game, the Vikings defense should have more luck against Detroit's 29th ranked offense.

Remember, the Vikings have been competitive at home this season, going 2-1, and haven't given up more than 24 points in any game. The defense has surrendered less than 30 points only once in four road contests.

It will be interesting to see how Fred Smoot rebounds after he was embarrassed by Carolina receiver Steve Smith. The Vikings likely will abandon the strategy of having Smoot cover the opposing team's No. 1 receiver after that debacle.

If the players are to be believed, the defense must become more aggressive. Statistics help back that up because the Vikings haven't had a sack in their past two games.

This could be a result of the Vikings' 3-4 defense being unable to apply pressure. Don't be surprised if Minnesota mixes in the 4-3 much more often Sunday.

The hope on offense is that the team will rally around Brad Johnson, who has replaced the injured Daunte Culpepper as the starting quarterback. Johnson certainly has the credentials to step into this role, but he hasn't been a full-time starter since the 2003 season.

The Lions are near the middle of the league against both the run and the pass, but until the Vikings prove they can do anything on the ground, Detroit likely will keep its focus on the aerial attack.


LG Chris Liwienski will have his hands full with Lions RT Dan Wilkinson. Liwienski has struggled for much of the season, partially the result of a preseason shoulder injury, and has left the coaching staff frustrated with his performance and techniques. Wilkinson stands to become a bigger threat if LT Shaun Rogers is able to play, meaning center Melvin Fowler would have to help RT Adam Goldberg block Rogers (knee) on a frequent basis and leaving Liwienski one-on-one.

TE Marcus Pollard is the Lions' second-leading receiver with 16 catches this season and is likely looking forward to visiting Minnesota on Sunday. The Vikings have struggled in coverage against tight ends this season, a failure that begins with the linebackers, and has given up a passing TD to a tight end in six of seven games.


The Vikings are relatively injury free with short-yardage running back Moe Williams the biggest concern because of a bad back and sore knee. Fred Smoot's shoulder injury turned out to be just a bruise so he should be fine.


The Lions' best chance of winning is to win with defense, even though several starters are either out (CB Dre' Bly) or banged up (MLB Earl Holmes, DT Shaun Rogers). If they can bother QB Brad Johnson in his first start of the season and force the Vikings to run the ball, the Lions should be able to have a chance to win.

Their own offense is unsettled with QB Joey Harrington back in a starting role after Jeff Garcia couldn't overcome his injuries, their running game extremely unproductive and their top receivers (Roy Williams and Charles Rogers) returning to the lineup after missing six games between them.


Lions RB Kevin Jones vs. Vikings MLB Sam Cowart. The Vikings rank 29th in the NFL against the run. This might be the breakout opportunity the Lions need for Jones to boost a struggling passing game.

Lions DE Kalimba Edwards vs. Vikings QB Brad Johnson. Johnson is getting his first start in place of injured Daunte Culpepper and the Lions need to keep the heat on him.

Lions PK Jason Hanson vs. Vikings PK Paul Edinger. Edinger beat the Lions on more than one occasion when he was with Chicago and with both teams showing offensive holes, this game could come down to the kickers.


CB R.W. McQuarters has taken over at RCB until Pro Bowler Dre' Bly comes back from wrist surgery.

DT Shaun Rogers is still not 100 percent from a sprained knee and was limited in practice Wednesday, an indication that DL Jared DeVries and DT Marcus Bell will probably get more playing time than usual, despite their own nicks and bruises.

LB Teddy Lehman has been ruled out for the Vikings game Sunday because of a mid-foot sprain and MLB Earl Holmes might be playing with a support on his injured wrist.

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