Even more proof of areas in which the Lions struggle. The Vikings have the Lions beat in nearly every major statistical category.
Two years ago this week, the Detroit Lions
headed down to Arizona looking to make a statement. Fresh off a 44-7 thrashing of the Denver Broncos, the Lions were 6-2 and licking at the heels of the Brett Favre
-led Packers. Jon Kitna
was talking tough – those were heady days.
But a funny thing happened on the way to a Motown revival. The Lions lost to the Cardinals 31-21. Then they lost to the Giants. Then the Packers. Then the Vikings. When all was said and done, the Lions would lose seven of their final eight games to close out the 2007 season.
We all know what happened last year as they became the first defeated team in NFL 16-game history, as opposed to those seeking to go undefeated. Combine that with their 1-7 start to the 2009 season and you have a body of work that should only give confidence to the Vikings. In their last 32 games, the Vikings have managed a record of 22-10 – among the league's best. The Lions have gone 2-30.
For some reason, during that streak the Lions have been able to keep games with the Vikings close deep into the second half. However, you get the impression that the rested Vikings are looking to make a statement coming out of their bye week. Of all the numbers that can be examined, perhaps the most important one is the only one that matters to coaches and players – do you win. Over the last two years, the Lions have proved they could beat Kansas City and Washington. Good luck, Kitties. You may need it today.
VIKINGS-LIONS BY THE NUMBERS
The Vikings have the 11th-ranked offense (12th rushing, 14th passing) and the 18th-ranked defense (6th rushing, 21st passing). The Lions have the 25th-ranked offense (20th rushing, 21st passing) and the 26th-ranked defense (17th rushing, 31st passing).
The Vikings offense is averaging 353.8 yards a game (118.8 yards rushing, 235 yards passing). The Lions are averaging 293.5 yards a game (104.4 rushing, 189.1 passing).
The Vikings defense is allowing an average of 332.6 yards a game (94.8 yards rushing, 237.9 yards passing). The Lions defense is allowing 373 yards a game (109.9 rushing, 263.1 passing).
Both teams have allowed their quarterbacks to get sacked too often. The Vikings rank 18th in sacks per pass play allowed, while Detroit is 25th.
The Vikings offense is third in the league in third-down conversions at 46.6 percent (54 conversions in 116 chances), while the Lions rank 17th at 39.3 percent (48 of 122). The league average is 38.5 percent.
The Vikings' return game has been outstanding in the first half of the season. Minnesota is eighth in punt-return average and second in kick-return average. The Lions are tied for 12th in punt return average and 27th in kick return average.
The Vikings are second in the league in points per game scored, while the Lions are 26th. The Vikings are tied for 17th in points allowed, while the Lions are 31st.
Defensively, the Vikings are ninth in the league in third-down efficiency at 35.3 percent (36 conversions in 102 chances), while the Lions are 19th at 38.5 percent (35 of 91).
The Vikings defense leads the league in sacks per pass attempt, while Detroit ranks 26th.
The Vikings are tied for sixth in giveaway/takeaway ratio at plus-5 (13 takeaways, eight giveaways). The Lions are tied for 27th at minus-7 (11 takeaways, 18 giveaways).
The Vikings' eight giveaways are only one short of the league lead. Only New England and Kansas City, who both have turned the ball over seven times each, have fewer.
The Vikings are eighth in the league in red zone offense at 60.6 percent, scoring touchdowns on 20 of 35 red zone opportunities. The Lions are at 45 percent, scoring TDs on just nine of 20 red zone chances.
Defensively in the red zone, the Vikings are second in the league, allowing touchdowns on just eight of 23 opponent trips inside the 20-yard line (34.8 percent). The Lions have allowed 50 percent of opposing red zone visits turns into touchdowns (17 TDs in 34 chances).
The average offensive starting position following kickoffs is the 26.2-yard line. The Vikings lead the league with an average start position of the 34.9-yard line. The Lions are 14th with an average start point of the 26.1-yard line.
Defensively, the Vikings rank 12th for opposing average starting position at the 25.1-yard line. The Lions are the worst in the league, allowing opponents to start on average at the 32-yard line.
Between the two teams, they have just two 300-yard passing games, both coming from Brett Favre. The Vikings have allowed two 300-yard passing games, while Detroit has allowed four.
The Vikings have just two 100-yard receiving games – both from Sidney Rice. The Lions have just one, coming from Calvin Johnson. The Vikings have allowed two 100-yard receivers, while Detroit has allowed three.
Adrian Peterson has two 100-yard rushing days this season, while Kevin Smith has the only 100-yard game for the Lions. The Vikings haven't allowed a 100-yard rusher in almost two years, while Detroit has allowed three 100-yard rushers this year.
Favre is among the league leaders in several key passing categories. He is fourth in completion percentage (68 percent), tied for third in touchdown passes (16), second in touchdown percentage (6.3 percent), tied for third in interceptions (3), first in interception percentage (1.2 percent) and second in passer rating (106.1) – trailing only Drew Brees at 106.1.
Matthew Stafford doesn't rank higher than 21st in any statistical category for quarterbacks and is 30th in passer rating at 55.9.
Favre has a passer rating of 111.5 in the fourth quarter of games, good enough for sixth-best in the league. Stafford ranks 38th with a passer rating of just 41.1 – having thrown 66 passes – none for touchdowns and four interceptions.
On third downs, Favre has a passer rating of 102.4 – fourth-best in the league. Stafford is 29th with a passer rating of 46.4. Only Jake Delhomme of the Panthers and Derek Anderson of the Browns have enough passes to qualify and have a lower passer rating.
Peterson is tied for third with Steven Jackson of St. Louis in rushing with 784 yards. He trails Cincinnati's Cedric Benson by 43 yards and has been distanced by 175 yards by Chris Johnson of Tennessee. Detroit's Kevin Smith is 16th in the league with 460 yards rushing.
Smith's 3.3-yard rushing average is the lowest among the 28 running backs with 360 or more rushing yards.
Peterson has proved to be money on third-and-1 situations. He has converted on eight of nine attempts. The nine attempts are tied for third most in the league and his eight conversions lead the league.
Sidney Rice is tied for 25th in the league in receptions with 37. Smith leads the Lions with 26 receptions – tied for 61st in the league.
Rice is 15th in the league in receiving yards with 585. Calvin Johnson leads Detroit with 352 yards – tied for 52nd in the league.
The Vikings and Lions have three of the top 11 receivers in terms of third-down receptions. Percy Harvin is sixth with 15 catches, Chester Taylor is tied for seventh with 14 and Johnson is tied for 11th with 13.
Peterson is third in the league in scoring for non-kickers with 54 points scored on nine touchdowns. Visanthe Shiancoe is tied for 15th with 36 points and Harvin is tied for 27th with 30 points. No Lions player has more than three touchdowns.
Ryan Longwell is tied for fifth place in scoring among kickers with 68 points. Jason Hanson is 22nd with 45 points.
The Lions may have reason to fear Harvin. Hanson is one of just two kickers without a touchback, which means they will all be returned.
Peterson is third in the league in total yards with 973 (784 rushing, 189 receiving). He trails Ray Rice by 36 yards and Chris Johnson by 149.
Peterson is second in the league in first downs converted with 47 (39 rushing, eight receiving). He is only one behind league leader DeAngelo Williams.
Harvin in second in the league with a 30.7-yard average on kick returns. He trails only Ted Ginn Jr. of Miami, who had a pair of 95-plus yard touchdown returns two weeks ago and has an average of 32.6 yards.
Jared Allen is tied for the league lead with 10.5 sacks, a lead he shares with Elvis Dumervil of Denver. Kevin Williams is tied for 14th with five sacks.
Allen and Chad Greenway are both tied for third in the league with two defensive fumble recoveries.