The Vikings should dominate on both sides of the ball against what appears to be another awful Detroit club.
One would certainly think the Vikings running game could get back on track after being held to 44 yards on 26 carries by the Saints on Monday night. The Lions are last in the NFL in total defense and 30th against the run. Their pass defense isn't much better at No. 29.
This should be good news for running back Adrian Peterson, who averaged only 1.5 yards per carry against the Saints, but had 116 yards on 15 carries and two touchdowns in a 42-10 victory over the Lions last December at the Metrodome.
Peterson has not rushed for 100 yards in the past three games after going over that mark in the first two contests.
Quarterback Gus Frerotte and receiver Bernard Berrian appear to be developing some chemistry after connecting six times for 110 yards and a touchdown in New Orleans. This is important because if Frerotte can hit Berrian on a few deep balls early in games it will loosen up defenses.
The Lions also have issues on offense. That unit ranks 28th in the league, including 31st in rushing and 19th in passing. The Vikings No. 3 ranked run defense is one of the best in the league and doesn't allow good running teams much room to work.
Detroit's only real hope will be to go to the air against the NFL's 24th-ranked pass defense.
The Lions have to find some way to keep from falling behind so badly. Four games, four awful deficits - 21-0, 21-0, 21-3, 31-0. They tried a no-huddle offense Sunday against Chicago, but expect them to go back to a more traditional running game with play-action passes, roll outs and bootlegs. The defense must stop running back Adrian Peterson, but even if the Lions find a way to do that, they could be in trouble. They rank last against the pass. They have only four sacks and no interceptions this season.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH
Vikings CB Cedric Griffin vs. Lions WR Calvin Johnson — Griffin has found himself the target of opposing quarterbacks for much of the season, in part because teams want to stay away from veteran left corner Antoine Winfield. That should be the case again Sunday. Johnson leads the Lions with 19 catches for 292 yards and two touchdowns. In the Vikings defensive scheme, Griffin is often content to give up short to medium range passes, and the Lions would be smart to take advantage.
Lions RDE Dewayne White vs. Vikings LT Bryant McKinnie: The Lions don't exactly have an imposing pass rush, but White has a team-leading two sacks. He'll be matched up against McKinnie, who will be in his second game back after serving a four-game suspension to begin the season. McKinnie played every snap against the Saints on Monday night and appeared to be in pretty good condition.
Vikings RB Adrian Peterson vs. Lions LBs Ernie Sims and Paris Lenon: Peterson hasn't reached the 100-yard rushing mark in his past three games, but had one of his best games against Detroit (116 yards) last season at the Metrodome. Two of the main players trying to contain Peterson will be linebackers Sims and Lenon, who are the Lions' two-leading tacklers with 42 and 35, respectively. The Lions held the Bears to 2.9 yards per carry Sunday. Peterson was held to 1.5 yards per carry Monday night at New Orleans. The Lions did a decent job against the Bears, but Chicago quarterback Kyle Orton had a career day in the meantime. And Peterson ripped through the Lions last year at the Metrodome, with 15 carries for 116 yards and two touchdowns.
Lions LT Jeff Backus vs. Vikings RDE Jared Allen — Backus allowed another sack Sunday against Chicago. Allen, who led the NFL with 15.5 sacks last season, has two sacks this year. All of Detroit's quarterbacks are coming off injuries - Jon Kitna (back), Dan Orlovsky (ankle) and Drew Stanton (thumb). If Backus can't contain Allen, it could lead to a fate even worse than sacks. If Orlovsky plays, he would be an inviting target for Allen. He is the least mobile of the Lions' QBs.
Vikings S Darren Sharper vs. Lions QB Jon Kitna: Sharper has intercepted 11 passes against the Lions and returned two of them for touchdowns. Kitna has thrown three picks to Sharper. From Scott Mitchell to Charlie Batch to Joey Harrington to Jon Kitna to J.T. O'Sullivan, Lions quarterbacks have been struggling against Sharper. No matter who plays quarterback for the Lions today, he must keep an eye on No. 42.
Vikings-Lions game plan
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