The Vikings say part of the problem with the running game last week was on their own shoulders. They'll look to correct that against the Lions, and we look at the many stats that help define the start of the season for each of these teams.
The problems the Vikings had trying to run the ball against the Saints last Monday came as something of a shock. Coming into the game, New Orleans had one of the worst run-stopping defenses in the league, yet completely closed down Adrian Peterson
, limiting him to just 32 yards on 21 carries. The Vikings expect that to change in a big way today against the Lions, but accepted a lot of the blame themselves for their sub-par performance Monday.
"You can say it was New Orleans putting eight guys in the box on almost every play, but it was just as much our fault," guard Anthony Herrera
said. "We just didn't execute. I would see it was about 50-50 with us not doing well running the ball – 50 percent them for putting extra pressure on stopping the run and 50 percent that we just missed blocks and didn't execute like we should."
The Vikings expect the performance against the Saints to be an anomaly that will correct this week and in future games, but the team also knows that they can expect a steady dose of the same from the Lions and just about every team that comes along after them.
"This is a league of replication," offensive tackle Ryan Cook
said. "We have to prove we can run the ball regardless of what the defense is throwing at us. Every team saw that game (against the Saints). They saw what they did and what worked. Until we can prove that we can run the ball like we know we can, be effective and create some big plays, everybody is probably going to copy what New Orleans did. It's our job to make them pay for that – either in the passing game or by opening better holes for our running backs."
VIKINGS-LIONS BY THE NUMBERS
The Lions are one of just four teams in the NFL still searching for their first win – the Texans, and Rams are also 0-4 and the Bengals are 0-5.
Only St. Louis, Cleveland and Kansas City have scored fewer points than Detroit's 66 this season.
The Vikings have the 18th-rated offense (12th rushing, 20th passing) and the ninth-rated defense (3rd rushing, 24th passing).
The Lions have the 28th rated offense (31st rushing, 19th passing) and the 32nd-rated defense (30th rushing, 29th passing).
The Lions are at or near the bottom in the league in a ton of categories, including offensive rankings in average gain per pass (29th), interception percentage (30th), sacks per passes thrown (28th), first downs (27th), third-down efficiency (30th) and points per game (28th). The defensive rankings are even worse in categories like total yards (32nd), rushing average (29th), passing average (32nd), sacks per pass (29th), first downs allowed (29th), third-down efficiency (28th) and points allowed (tied for 31st).
The Vikings are tied for seventh in the league in giveaway-takeaway ratio at plus-2 (nine takeaways, seven giveaways). The Lions rank dead last at minus-6 (two takeaways and eight giveaways).
The Lions have the league's best percentage of scoring touchdowns in the red zone, but that doesn't tell the whole story. The Lions have been in the red zone just four times (only St. Louis is worse and they are the only two teams with less than 10 trips to the red zone).
The Vikings are last in red zone touchdown percentage – scoring just three TDs in 12 trips inside the opponent 20-yard line.
Defensively, the Vikings are 19th in TD percentage allowed in the red zone, allowing eight TDs on 15 opponent red zone possessions. However, the Vikings have had opponents come up empty four times in the red zone. Only four teams have a better percentage.
Detroit is 26th in red zone defense, allowing 11 touchdowns on 17 opponent trips into the red zone.
Neither team has been very impressive offensively on third down. The league average for third-down conversions is 38.4 percent. The Vikings have converted on 35.2 percent of their third-down chances, while the Lions have converted on just 25 percent (only the Raiders and Rams are worse).
Defensively, the Vikings are slightly below league average (38.4 percent) in third-down conversions, allowing an average of 38.2 percent of third downs to become first downs. The Lions are again dismal in this regard, allowing 45.3 percent of third downs to be converted.
The Vikings defense has only allowed three first downs via penalty – only the Patriots and Saints with two each have allowed fewer.
Both the Vikings and Lions have struggled to get significant gains on first down. The league average is 5.02 yards per first-down play. The Vikings rank 23rd at 4.83 yards and the Lions are barely better at 23rd with a 4.84 yard average.
Defensively, the Vikings are 21st on first downs, allowing an average of 5.16 yards, but the Lions are dead last by a long shot – Detroit averages 8.47 yards per play, which is more than 2.3 yards worse than any team in the league (St. Louis is 31st at 6.1 yards per first down play).
The Vikings are 30th in the league in average opponent starting position after kickoffs. The league average start is the 26.2-yard line. The Vikings opponent average is the 29.8 yard line.
Both the Vikings and Lions have allowed a pair of 300-yard passers and neither team has had a 300-yard passer of its own.
The Vikings have yet to allow a 100-yard rusher, but not only have the Lions allowed two, both are in the top 10 yardage days in the league – Michael Turner's 220 yards and Frank Gore's 130 yards.
Adrian Peterson has two 100-yard rushing days. The Lions have yet to have a 100-yard rusher.
Peterson ranks third in the NFL with 452 rushing yards. The Lions' top rusher is rookie Kevin Smith, who ranks 44th with just 133 rushing yards.
Bobby Wade is tied for 24th in the league with 21 receptions. Calvin Johnson is tied for 33rd with 19 receptions to lead the Lions.
Bernard Berrian is 20th in the league with 305 receiving yards. The top Lion in that category is Johnson, who is 22nd with 292 receiving yards.
Peterson is seventh in the league in total yards from scrimmage with 513 (452 rushing and 61 receiving). Johnson leads the Lions with 292 yards (all receiving) – good for 47th in the league.
Ryan Longwell is third in the league in scoring with 47 points and his 15 field goal attempts and 13 field goals made are both tops among NFL kickers. Jason Hanson is tied for 25th with 22 points, making all five of his field goal attempts and all seven of his extra point chances.
Chris Kluwe in the seventh in the league in punting average at 47.1 yards, but is 31st in net yardage at 31.7, thanks to 389 yards in punt returns by opponents. Only one other team (St. Louis) has more than 189 yards allowed in punt returns.
In a rare "American Idol" reference, the Vikings combo of Taylor Hicks (Chester Taylor and Maurice Hicks) are in the middle of the competition for kickoff returns. Taylor is tied for 12th, averageing 25.6 yards per return, while Hicks is 14th with a 25.4-yard average.
Antoine Winfield is tied with six other players for the league lead with two fumble recoveries.
Bernard Berrian is averaging almost 18 yards per reception this season.
The Vikings' average time of possession is 31:08, as opposed to just 25:19 for Detroit.
The Vikings have fumbled seven times and lost four of them. Vikings opponents have 13 fumbles, but have lost only five of them.
The Vikings have a team passer rating of 73.3, which is slightly lower than the opposing QB combined rating of 77.5.
The Vikings have scored just 16 points in both the first and third quarters of their games this season – scoring two touchdowns and six field goals. Their opponents have scored 47 points in those quarters – five touchdowns and four field goals.
The Lions have lost their four games this season by totals of 13, 23, 18 and 27 points.
Lions opponents are completing 67.6 percent of their passes and have a whopping passer rating of 122.1.
Detroit has allowed 18 touchdowns in four games – seven rushing, eight passing and three interceptions returns for TDs.
The Lions have been outscored 38-0 in the first quarter of games this year and 80-20 in the first half.
Lions opponents are averaging five yards a carry this season, which is why the Lions have allowed 720 rushing yards and are among the worst run defenses in the NFL this season.
Detroit hasn't won at the Metrodome in 10 years, with their last win coming in 1997.