The first NFC North battle of the season commences on Sunday afternoon, as the Minnesota Vikings make an early season appearance in Detroit to oppose the Lions. Though the Vikings finished well under .500 last season and played some ugly football, they still had a chance to win both games against the Lions, taking one to the final play of regulation and the other to overtime. Now, the Lions need a win to get back even on the season, and prevent things from spiraling downhill early on.
How does Detroit figure to come out on top? These five factors will play a huge role in the outcome of the second game at Ford Field this fall:
1. Jeff Backus Against Jared Allen. One of the best matchups on the lines has been a classic for years. Both Backus and Allen are battlers, and more often than not, Allen gets the better of this contest. With Matthew Stafford hurting a bit, it will be even more important for Backus to hold his own against Allen and keep his quarterback upright. A big game by one of the best defenders in football could spell trouble for the Lions' offense, which has had some trouble early in the year.
2. Christian Ponder. After watching Ponder manage games early this season, it's clear the Vikings have a quarterback they should be confident in. He played well against San Francisco, one of the NFL's best defenses, and led his team to a win by tossing two touchdowns without turning the ball over. Last season against the Lions, Ponder struggled, throwing interceptions and making big mistakes early in the game. This time around, will he prove he's grown up in a rowdy road environment?
3. Can Detroit's Defense Rebound? It was a horrid performance in Tennessee against another young quarterback in Jake Locker, as the Titans lit up Detroit's secondary with big plays and explosive gains to the tune of 378 yards. Can the Lions shut down Percy Harvin and the Viking passing attack well enough to contain Adrian Peterson on the ground? Without a few contributors up front and in the backfield, the Lions are now battling injuries as much as themselves. That's not a good combination for a defense which needs a good week to rebound after two consecutive poor efforts.
4. Will The Running Game Continue To Improve? Mikel Leshoure ran well last week as the feature back, grinding out 100 yards and scoring a touchdown for the Lions, helping add a valuable missing element to the offense. Now, word that Leshoure's groin is hurting isn't great news for Detroit, who may depend on Kevin Smith and Joique Bell to take pressure off the running game. Minnesota's rush defense is ranked 12th in the NFL, which is solid. The Lions need another good running effort this week to open things up for their receivers down field, which should help keep defenses honest.
5. How Big A Role Will Injuries Play? As was alluded to yesterday afternoon, the Lions are fighting a few big injuries. Stafford looks like a good bet to play despite his sore hip, but defensively, the Lions will be without Corey Williams and Louis Delmas, and potentially Amari Spievey and Justin Durant. That's plenty short handed for a group which has had well documented struggles early in 2012. Offensively, the Lions could be without Leshoure and Tony Scheffler. Will the Lions struggle because of these injuries?
Related VideosReturning Soon!!!!
No related posts.
Short URL: http://sport-ne.ws/kzw