Vikings-Lions game plan

The Vikings may have an old proven quarterback, but they are still a ground team first. The Lions may need the running game even more to support a rookie quarterback. Get those angles and some of the matchups to watch in Sunday's showdown.


Brett Favre might be the Vikings quarterback but that doesn't mean this team is going to change its approach on offense.

At least not as long as Adrian Peterson is wearing purple. Peterson ran for 180 yards and three touchdowns in the Vikings' 34-20 season-opening victory over Cleveland and could be in for another big day against the woeful Lions.

The Vikings' plan entering their victory over the Browns was to keep giving the ball to Peterson, knowing he would eventually get big chunks of yardage. That's exactly what happened.

After gaining only 25 yards in the first half, Peterson went for 155 yards in the final 30 minutes, including an incredible 64-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter in which he broke six tackles.

That doesn't mean that Favre isn't going to go to the air on occasion. Favre threw for only 110 yards last Sunday but certainly the Vikings have noticed that Saints quarterback Drew Brees torched the Lions for 358 yards passing and six touchdowns in New Orleans' 45-27 victory. The Saints also gained 157 yards on the ground, including a career-high 143 by Mike Bell.

One reason why the Vikings might favor the run over the pass is because of their desire to tire the Lions and also eat clock with one of the NFL's top ground games.

The Vikings defense also got off to a strong start against the Browns, getting five sacks and holding Cleveland to one offensive touchdown. Rookie quarterback Matthew Stafford is likely to get plenty of pressure from Jared Allen and Co.


The Lions cannot do what they did Sunday at New Orleans. They cannot fall behind. They cannot fail to run the ball and control the clock. They must support rookie quarterback Matthew Stafford and keep the Vikings' offense off the field. The more Stafford throws, the greater chances he will make mistakes. The more Adrian Peterson is on the field, the greater chances he will put up huge rushing numbers against a suspect defense.


Vikings CB Antoine Winfield, who made the Pro Bowl for the first time in his 11-year career last season, vs. Lions WR Calvin Johnson, who caught three passes for 90 yards in the opener against New Orleans. The Browns threw at Winfield only once last Sunday but the Lions actually could work to get this matchup on occasion. Winfield, who plays the left corner spot, is more respected at this point in his career than right corner Cedric Griffin, but Johnson is 6-foot-5 and 235 pounds and Winfield is 5-9, 180. Last season, Johnson had seven catches for 169 yards and two touchdowns against the Vikings. No matter who Johnson is matched up against, rookie quarterback Matthew Stafford will be looking his way Sunday.

Vikings DE Jared Allen, who had only one assist on a tackle last Sunday, vs. Lions RT Jeff Backus, who has started every game for Detroit since 2001. The Vikings had five sacks last Sunday, but Allen was not involved in any of them. This isn't going to sit well with the Pro Bowl player, who was matched up against another Pro Bowl talent in Browns left tackle Joe Thomas. Enter Backus, who is going to have to contend with an angry Allen. Allen also was a non-factor in the Vikings' opener last season in Green Bay. He finished the season with 14.5 sacks.

Lions run defense, which allowed 143 yards to Saints backup running back Mike Bell on Sunday, vs. Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, who rushed for 180 yards and three touchdowns at Cleveland. The Lions had trouble with linebackers misaligning at New Orleans. They must get their fits correct, and they must find a way to get to Peterson before he gets started. If they can hit him at the line of scrimmage or before, if they can at least make him turn his shoulders and not charge north and south, they might have a chance to limit the damage.

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