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Can the Vikings Prolong the Misery in Motown?

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Date: 20 September 2009
Location: Detroit, MI
Time: 12:00 P.M. CST Stadium: Ford Field
DirecTV Ch. 711
Know Thy Enemy: Pride of Detroit
Gonzo's Prediction: Vikings 34, Lions 17
Final Score: Vikings 27, Lions 13

Well, ladies and gentlemen, it's nearly time for the game that the Lions have probably had circled since the day the schedules were announced. This is the home opener for Detroit, and the first home game for their heralded rookie quarterback, Matthew Stafford. The rookie had a bit of a rough debut last weekend in New Orleans, and hopefully the Vikings' front four will make things just as rough for him this afternoon as well. So what are the major keys for the Beloved Purple this afternoon?

1) Don't get overconfident - As we've all been reminded numerous times, the Vikings almost lost both their meetings to the Lions in 2008. Fortunately for Minnesota, "almost lost both meetings to the Lions" is just another way of saying "Minnesota swept Detroit for the seventh time in the last nine seasons." Despite the Vikings' recent record of success against Detroit, however, they absolutely can not forget what happened last season in their two games against the Lions, and I personally don't think that they will.

Oh, and speaking of things to remember from last year. . .do you suppose Jared Allen still wants to rip Gosder Cherilus' head off of his shoulders? I'm guessing he probably does.

2) Minimize Calvin Johnson's impact - You're not going to "shut down" Megatron, because he might be the best receiver in the NFL. . .certainly somewhere in the Top 5. He had a touchdown catch in each game against the Vikings last year, and when you have a young quarterback like Matthew Stafford, he's going to have a tendency to try to lean on a guy like Calvin Johnson as much as he can. While the Vikings' front four will have to keep the heat on Stafford, the secondary will have to know where Johnson is at all times.

3) Hang on to the football - Much was made of Adrian Peterson's nine fumbles in 2008. Of those nine fumbles, four of them occurred in the two contests against Detroit, and that played a part in allowing the Lions to hang close with the Vikings. We saw last weekend exactly how dominating #28 can be once he gets rolling, and against a Lions' defense that allowed Mike Bell to go off for 143 yards last weekend, you would think that Adrian Peterson might be able to improve on that just a little bit. There's no reason to think that he won't. . .as long as the ball doesn't find its way to the turf.

The Vikings, on paper, are the better football team going into this game. We know this. And the Detroit Lions are eventually going to win a game and snap their losing streak. . .a streak that currently sits at 17 games and 22 of their last 23. And yes, the Lions scared the Vikings twice last season in a big way. But I really, honestly don't think that the streak ends for Detroit today. Once again, Adrian Peterson should prove to be too much, and Brett Favre should be able to make the Lions' defense pay in ways that Gus Frerotte could not in 2008 if they commit too many people to stopping the run.

Kickoff is in an hour and a half, folks. . .make sure you're here for all the excitement of Vikings' football on a Sunday afternoon. We'll see you here at noon!