– Both offenses rely on one juggernaut. Adrian Peterson rushed 48 times for 273 and caught 7 balls for 25 yards in the season series last year. Calvin Johnson caught 17 passes for 261 yards on 25 targets in the two meetings. These two are studs and will get theirs, but I will be interested to see how much better the Lions will be against the run with their bigger group of defensive ends. The Lions have been excellent against the run all preseason. Meanwhile, the Minnesota Vikings have added 1st round pick cornerback Xavier Rhodes to a rapidly improving and young secondary led by second-year free safety Harrison Smith.
– Which weapons outside of the aforementioned superstars will step up? Detroit Lions running backs caught a total of 18 passes last season against the Vikings. Look for Reggie Bush to be Matthew Stafford’s number two target. As for the Vikings have a new look at wide receiver this year. Former Green Bay Packer Greg Jennings only caught one for 27 yards in the sole game he was healthy for against Detroit. Now surrounded by a less crowded corps of receivers he should get a lot more action. Cornerback Chris Houston will have his hands full with Jennings as the Lions will need to keep eight in the box most of the game in an effort to slow down Peterson.
– Quarterbacks Christian Ponder and Matthew Stafford were efficient with the football when facing each other last season. Ponder didn’t do a whole lot with a total of 332 yards thrown but completed an impressive 40 of 58 passes with two touchdowns. The key for him is managing the game as he has the best running back in the league. Ponder did just that amassing zero turnovers against the Lions. For Detroit Stafford was a yardage machine totaling 648 yards on 58 of 93 completed with four touchdowns (one rushing). He too did a great job in game management as he threw for only one interception. Whoever wins the turnover battle could be the deciding factor in what should be a close and entertaining game.
Minnesota Vikings, 20, at Detroit Lions, 27
The defensive line for the Lions will slow down Peterson and pressure Ponder. Ezekiel “Ziggy” Ansah is probable after suffering his first concussion August 24th. These new defensive ends for Detroit are significantly better than last year’s set.
After a shaky preseason from Stafford I am happy with what I saw in most other areas. If Stafford can have one turnover or less I guarantee a Lions victory.