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I'm highlighting five players from the upcoming game against Detroit. I think their performance will determine the outcome, for better or for worse.
Jared Allen - Without a bothersome and consistent pass rush, Stafford will be licking his chops against the Vikings back seven. Allen will need to dominate Riley Reiff in order for the defense to generate stops. Allen will also need to play smart, containing Reggie Bush on outside runs.
Ryan Broyles - I fully expect a constant double-team on Calvin Johnson, probably consisting of Sanford and Robinson, at the least. Such a scheme will have Harrison Smith roaming freely, but also require Chris Cook to excel in man coverage. It will be interesting to see how Broyles performs and whether he properly complements Megatron. If the answer is yes, then Detroit will field an offensive juggernaut.
Reggie Bush - Adds a new dynamic to Detroit's offense, which should stretch the Vikings D horizontally. Even when successfully covering Johnson, swing passes to Bush will be a common occurrence. If the Vikings are able to limit Bush's open-field touches, Detroit will revert to a one-dimensional offense.
Cordarrelle Patterson - The Vikings have a history of special teams success against Detroit and hopefully that will continue on Sunday. Patterson will have to earn his "Flash" nickname early. He has the chance to give us great field position and quick responses after Detroit scoring drives. I'm sure we will try to manufacture touches for him on offense as well, but I would primarily like to see good ST play from him.
Kyle Rudolph - I am expecting Adrian Peterson to gain well over 100 yards, making him the focal point of our offense, and taking pressure off of Christian Ponder. To put it another way, Ponder is not going to have a breakout game. The more realistic plan is for a mistake-free, "check down"-type game from the Vikings quarterback. All that being said, he will have to convert some third downs and take advantage of play-action passing situations. In those clutch moments, Rudolph must be the guy. We haven't seen anything new from Simpson, or good rapport with Jennings. I expect Rudolph to be targeted early and often and the outcomes of those plays will be very important.