Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings
Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome
Well, thanks to the Minnesota Twins' offense catching a nasty case of Viking-itis over the past week, our beloved Purple will be taking on their division rivals from Detroit this afternoon rather than on Monday night.
(Incidentally, congratulations to the Detroit Tigers for knocking off the Yankee$ last night. And, on a related note, ESPN really has to stop this whole BS where they declare something the "greatest ever" before said entity accomplishes anything. They did it with the USC Trojans last year, they did it with the Yankees' lineup this year, and both teams got the same result. Just sayin' is all. Let me put my soapbox away.)
So, this afternoon, the quest for 20 continues. Yes, in 4 weeks, the Vikings have scored 19, 16, 16, and 12 points. . .giving them an average of 15.75 points per game and ranking them 27th in the NFL in that category. Fortunately, they're still tied for 9th in the NFL in points allowed (16.2 PPG), which is a small part of the reason that their record sits at an even .500 at this point. The bigger reason being that Chris Gamble is an idiot, but that's here nor there at the moment.
The Lions, conversely, are tied for 17th in the league in points scored (17.8 ppg). Detroit has also scored 58 points in their past two games after only scoring 13 in their first two. Their problem lies with the fact that they're currently tied for 28th in the NFL in points allowed (28.8 ppg). They've also allowed 10 TD passes over 4 games, which is the most of any team in the NFL.
So, the two big questions are this:
1) Does the Lions' defense suck badly enough to allow the Vikings to actually put the ball into the end zone?
2) Can the Vikings' defense slow down the Detroit offense?
I think the answer to the first one is "yes." Outside of Shaun Rogers, the Detroit defense is terrible, and their secondary may be the worst in football. The Lions are currently 26th in the NFL in yards allowed per game, 30th against the pass. If the Minnesota receivers can hold on to the football, they should be able to make it another long day for the Lions defense.
Conversely, while Minnesota's defense has been good this year to this point (10th overall, 15th against the pass, 11th against the run), they need to show an improvement over last week. J.P. Losman pretty much had their way with the Vikings, and they can't allow Jon Kitna to do the same. Granted, some of that was due to the Vikings' offensive ineptitude, and specifically their inability to convert third downs. . .hopefully this will be less of a problem for the Vikings this afternoon.
Will this be the week the Vikings break that mythical 20-point barrier? I thought last week would be the one, but I was wrong. However, I'm feeling the good vibes this week, too. BUT. . .I still think that this game will follow the same script that the previous 4 have, and that most of the games this year will follow. The Vikings, regardless of the level of competition they're facing, will allow the game to be close for about 59 1/2 minutes, and then turn things over to Ryan Longwell to seal the win.
Gonzo's Final Score Prediction: Vikings 20, Lions 17
The last time the Vikings lost to the Lions, it was 2001. Denny Green was still coaching, and the Vikings had something called Todd Bouman starting at QB for an injured Daunte Culpepper. Detroit was 0-12 going into that game. . .and they were 1-12 after it was over.
Here's hoping that today isn't the day that we give another winless Detroit team their first win of the year.