Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions
Just after 3 PM Central time this afternoon, these two teams will kick off what's shaping up to be one of the more interesting Vikings/Lions matchups in some time. Both teams looked relatively impressive in victory last week, but they're hearing from every corner that it didn't mean very much because of the opponent they played. The Lions put up 36 points on a pretty good Oakland defense (although they did trail going into the 4th quarter), and the Vikings thoroughly dominated the Vick-less (and defense-less) Atlanta Falcons. By the time this game is over, one of these two teams will probably get the label of being "better than people originally thought," while the other will continue being dismissed by the "experts" everywhere.
Obviously, the matchup of the Vikings' defense and the Lions' offense is highly intriguing. From reading various previews around the Internet, it seems that people expect that Jon Kitna will have no trouble repeating his performance against the Raiders (27/36, 289 yards, 3 TD, 2 INT) against the beloved Purple. However, in 2006 when the Vikings allegedly had the worst pass defense in the NFL. . .something that we've disproven here on numerous occasions. . .here were his combined numbers in two games against Minnesota:
51/83, 519 yards, 2 TD, 6 INT, 1 rush TD, 2 fumbles lost
That's 8 Kitna turnovers in 2 games (4 in each one). Throw in the fact that the Vikings had 30 sacks in all of 2006. . .but they managed to get Jon Kitna 8 times. I, frankly, think that Kitna has a better chance of repeating his 2006 performances against Minnesota than he does of repeating his performance from last week. Detroit's offensive line still isn't very good, and they present absolutely no running threat to the Vikings at all. Of course, you can say that about pretty much every team in the NFL, but it's especially true in Detroit's case. I would expect to see numerous Minnesota defensive linemen getting up close and personal with Mr. Kitna this afternoon.
When possession changes, I think the Lions are going to see more of a certain #28 than they have any desire to see. According to the St. Paul Pioneer Press, it's looking more likely that Chester Taylor will not suit up this afternoon. I'm guessing that this means Mewelde Moore will be on the active roster this week, but make no mistake. . .this is going to be Episode 2 in the first season of the Adrian Peterson show, and I'd expect that it will be even more successful than the pilot episode. However, there's a pretty good chance that this game could be a coming out party of sorts for Tarvaris Jackson, too. Detroit's secondary is relatively atrocious (Fernando Bryant as a #1 CB? Really? Seriously?), and while the Lions will be putting 8 and 9 defenders in the box in a foolish attempt to counteract Purple Jesus, the Vikings' WRs will be getting open against said atrocious secondary. If Jackson shows the kind of composure he showed in the face of pressure against Atlanta last week, the yards (and, hopefully, touchdowns) will be there for the taking.
There's a part of me that also agrees with something that Pacifist Viking put on his site on Friday:
I have exactly the same sentiment at this point. These are the Detroit Lions. . .a team that the Vikings have beaten 10 straight times, 13 of the last 14, and 16 of the last 18. Minnesota's all-time record against the Motor City Kitties is 60-29-2. The Lions have added more talent and this and that and the other and yadda yadda yadda. I'll believe it when I see it. . .and until I see it, these are still the Detroit Lions we're talking about.
Gonzo's Final Score Prediction: Vikings 24, Lions 17Enjoy your Sunday, folks, and don't forget to throw some comments into the thread here. . .the more participation from everyone, the better!