Vikings-Lions Game Plan

This one has the potential to be ugly, as neither team has been that impressive this season, but we've got the matchups to watch.

If you're a football fan, the best game plan might be to avoid this one all together. It has the potential to be extremely ugly.

The Lions are out of the playoff race and the Vikings are only in it because of the ineptitude that exists in this conference.

Sure, the Vikings proved they can beat the dregs of the NFL when they edged Arizona in late November, but that was before coach Brad Childress lost all confidence in quarterback Brad Johnson and created a late-season controversy at the position.

Detroit's defense is in the bottom half of the NFL but that might not mean much considering the Vikings' struggles to score points.

Chester Taylor might have been in for a big day rushing the ball, but he is doubtful with a rib injury. If he doesn't go, Ciatrick Fason stands to benefit. The question is, no matter how effectively the Vikings run the ball, will they be able to punch it into the end zone?

Minnesota did account for 26 points in its first meeting with the Lions, but two of those touchdowns came from the defense.

That unit played extremely well in last Sunday's loss to Chicago after having a rough stretch against the pass. It's likely the Lions will look to go to the air, especially since running the ball against the top-ranked rush defense in the NFL seems futile.

The Vikings caught a break in the first game when Lions receiver Roy Williams went out early because of an injury. Williams has returned and could prove a difficult match-up.

If Jon Kitna does air it out frequently, the Vikings must generate a consistent pass rush, something that has not happened that often of late.

It's not like the Lions were totally out-classed in their 26-17 loss to Minnesota in the Oct. 8 game at Minneapolis. They went into the fourth quarter with a 17-3 lead but came apart at the seams with fumbles, interceptions and an all-around offensive breakdown.

Playing at home gives them a chance to prove to coach Rod Marinelli they can make plays in the fourth quarter, something they haven't been able to do very infrequently during the season.


  • WR Roy Williams is second in the NFL with 1,043 receiving yards and is tied for the team-lead with four touchdown catches. Detroit likely will look to have him increase those figures by getting him matched up on rookie right cornerback Cedric Griffin. Both players are familiar with each other having spent time together as college teammate at Texas. The Vikings could assign veteran cornerback Antoine Winfield to Williams, but so far this season defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin has not tried to create these type of match-ups for his corners.

  • Vikings NT Pat Williams has been dominant for much of this season, even though he recently has been playing on a bad right knee. He will try to keep this Pro Bowl level of play up against Lions center Dominic Raiola, who undoubtedly will get some help from the Lions guards. Raiola sometimes has a problem with bulky nose tackles.

  • Lions QB Jon Kitna vs. Vikings CB Antoine Winfield. Kitna has given up at least one interception in each of the last 10 games and Winfield leads the Vikings with four in the first 12 games.

  • Lions WLB Ernie Sims vs. Vikings RB Ciatrick Fason or Mewelde Moore. Chester Taylor isn't likely to play as much as usual and may not even dress for the game with a rib injury. Moore has had only 20 carries in the first 12 games, a good sign for the Lions inconsistent run defense, but Ciatrick Fason had a career game last Sunday with 75 yards in second-half relief of Taylor.


  • Vikings WR Marcus Robinson posted career-highs in catches (11) and yards receiving (170) against Detroit on Dec. 19, 1999, when he was with the Chicago Bears.

  • Vikings RB Artose Pinner was a fourth-round pick of the Lions in 2003 and played three seasons with the team before being picked off waivers by Minnesota just before the season.

  • Vikings RB Chester Taylor, who had to leave last Sunday's game at Chicago because of bruised ribs, is a native of River Rouge, Mich. Taylor rushed for 123 yards against the Lions on Oct. 8, 2006, when he was with the Baltimore Ravens.

  • Taylor's 26 carries against the Lions in the first meeting of the season between these teams is the third most in the history of this series. Taylor rushed for 123 yards in that game.

  • Former Vikings LB Scott Studwell set the team record with 24 tackles in a 41-21 loss to the Lions at the Silverdome.

  • Former Vikings WR Sammy White's 210 yards receiving in a 31-23 victory over the Lions on Nov. 7, 1976, still stands as the team record. White had seven receptions that day.

  • Former Vikings RB Clinton Jones was only the second player in team history to rush for three touchdowns in a game and still stands tied for the team record when he scored three times in a 1970 game at Met Stadium against the Lions.

    BY THE NUMBERS: 71.2 — Brad Johnson's quarterback rating, which ranks 28th in the NFL, putting him ahead of only Denver's Jake Plummer (70.5) and Dallas' Drew Bledsoe (69.2). Those two have been benched.

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "You've got to understand that we believe in our coaches and whoever they put as the head of this team we're going to get behind and push. No one is going to give up regardless of who they put in or who is at quarterback. That's not even in our mindset right now about giving up or not being in the hunt. All we're trying to do is win the next game and whoever they put at quarterback, our defense, you can bet is going to be full behind him." — Safety Dwight Smith when asked for his opinion on who the Vikings should start at quarterback Sunday.

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