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The First Official "Must-Win" Game Of The Season Is Here



Date: 25 September 2011
Location: Minneapolis, MN
Time: 12:00 PM Central
Stadium: HHH Metrodome
DirecTV Ch. 710
Know Thy Enemy: Pride of Detroit
Gonzo's Prediction: Vikings 24, Lions 23
Final Score: Lions 26, Vikings 23 (OT)

Yes, it's entirely possible that the score prediction there is a bit of wishful thinking, but by God. . .the Vikings haven't lost to this team in their house since Bill Clinton was President, Wayne Fontes was roaming the sidelines, and Barry Sanders was toting the rock. I'm not ready to just concede them a victory quite yet.

The Vikings do have a shot in this one, but there are some things that they have to do.

1) Adrian Peterson, Adrian Peterson, and more Adrian Peterson - Detroit's defense has been very good so far this season, with their front four making things very easy for the guys on the back side of the defense. However, they haven't been spectacular against the run, allowing 104 yards/game and 4.6 yards/carry through the first two games. Peterson, he of the shiny new contract, has been outstanding for the first two weeks of the year, averaging 5.3 yards/carry and 114 yards/game. He also has a history of performing pretty well against Detroit over the course of his career. Since he is the primary threat in this offense, he absolutely has to have a big game this afternoon and attempt to get some of the Lions' secondary to sneak down into the box to open things up for the Minnesota "passing game," such as it is. It will also keep Detroit's offense off the field and "shorten the game" if Peterson and Toby Gerhart can keep the ball moving on the ground.

2) Get to Matthew Stafford - Stafford, to put it mildly, has been subject to injuries in his first two years in the league, but through the Lions' first two games this season, he has yet to be sacked and really hasn't been hit very much. If the Vikings want to slow down what is currently the #2 scoring offense in the NFL, they need to get to Stafford. Detroit left tackle Jeff Backus has been nursing an injury, and got beaten a few times last week by Kansas City's Tamba Hali, so here's hoping that Jared Allen can get to him a few times. Oh, and having that large fellow named Kevin Williams back in the middle of the line in his first game back following his two-game suspension certainly won't hurt the Vikings in this department. Now, I'm not suggesting that the Vikings try to injure Stafford or anything like that. . .but the old saying is that quarterbacks are different after they get hit, and the Vikings need to try to turn Stafford into a different quarterback this afternoon.

3) Show up for the second half - Like I said right after the game last week. . .I don't know if it's scheme. I don't know if it's play calling. I don't know if it's a lack of halftime adjustments. I don't know if it has to do with conditioning. But the Vikings can not afford to only play 30 minutes of football this afternoon. An 0-2 start is bad enough. . .an 0-3 start will pretty much put the kibosh on this entire season already. Leslie Frazier, Bill Musgrave, and Fred Pagac are not stupid, so here's hoping that they've come up with a fix for Minnesota's second half blues.

I, like all of you, am hoping for the best this afternoon. This Vikings' team is not entirely without talent, but they need to put together a complete performance. Detroit is one of the hottest teams in the NFL right now, and it's going to take a great game from the Vikings if they're going to come away with a win in this one.

Besides. . .I hate predicting losses.

Kickoff happens in about an hour and a half, ladies and gentlemen. Here's hoping that you'll be here with us for it.