Last week I looked at the matchups of the Lions' Offense versus the Chiefs' Defense and vice versa. This week I'll compare the Lions and Vikings passing and ground game to one another.
Overall the Lions have a better defense than the Vikings, but I wouldn't count out Jared Allen, Kevin Williams and Brian Robison to make a big impact in this game. The onus is going to be on the Lions offense to keep a decent lead and force the Vikings to pass.
We are fortunate to have had the Lions and Vikings both play the same team (Tampa Bay) in the first two weeks of the regular season, so we will be able to compare some stats. Obviously there are factors that significantly change from week to week, but it will at least provide some perspective.
Lions / Vikings Rush:
The focal point of the Vikings' rushing game and entire offense is Adrian Peterson. In week 2 against Tampa Bay Peterson had 120 yards on 25 attempts with 2 touchdowns and a fumble. Minnesota had 186 yards total on the ground total against the Bucs, compared to Detroit's 126.
In week 17 of last season against the Lions AP had 31 yards on 14 attempts. That week 17 game was probably skewed for a number of factors: Joe Webb being forced into playing quarterback with Favre and Jackson out, not wanting to but unneeded wear on Peterson and the Lions stacking the box. Despite all that, it showed that the Lions could contain AP and which shouldn't change this Sunday.
The Bucs gave up 126 yards in week 1 against the Lions and 186 yards in week 2 against the Vikings. By that measuring stick we can see that both teams can move the ball well with the difference maker there obviously being Adrian Peterson.
The Bucs had 56 yards rushing in week 1 against the Lions and 105 yards in week 2 against the Vikings. Detroit has able to handle Tampa Bay's running game far better than Minnesota.
The stats from the above two paragraphs somewhat negate each other and would lead me to believe the Vikings will put up around 100 yards on the ground.
Jahvid Best rushed for 72 yards with 42 yards receiving in week 1 and rushed for 57 yards with 66 yards receiving for an average of 118.5 all purpose yards. I imagine he'll post similar numbers this week with the rushing/receiving split looking more like week 2 primarily because of Minnesota's defensive line.
Kevin Williams is back. He could be effective because he is rested up, he could be ineffective because he has been out a couple weeks with a suspension. In week 17 of last season he was largely inneffective against the Lions, though I have to believe that there was no wind left in the Vikings sails heading into that game having been thoroughly eliminated by the playoffs and having Joe Webb under center. He will definitely have an impact on the Lions' ground game this week.
I think both teams will get around 100 yards rushing with Adrian Peterson punching in a TD.
Lions / Vikings Pass:
Jared Allen and Brian Robison both have been playing pretty well so far this year. Allen had a sack against Backus in week 17 last year while Robison had a sack against Rob Sims in week 4. The Lions are the only team to not give up a sack yet so it will be interesting to see if they can keep the streak going against some great pass rushers.
On the other end of the pass rushing game, I expect the Lions will have 3 - 4 sacks on McNabb. They had 4 in week 17 of last season on Joe Webb who is far more mobile than McNabb. The Vikings offensive line has been scrutinized heavily during the offseason, but really hasn't been too bad the first couple weeks. I expect Kocurcek has Detroit's defensive line fired up after a "slow" start and heading into a division match up. The match up of these two units is going to be the biggest factor of the game next to Matthew Stafford's performance.
Minnesota's top receiver Percy Harvin had 84 yards on 7 receptions (8 targets) against the Bucs. Harvin will probably have fairly similar numbers against the Lions but I'm guessing he'll put up his first TD of the season.
Here are Josh Freeman's stats against both Detroit's and Minnesota's secondaries:
Week 1 against Detroit: 1 td 1 pick in week 1 for 261 yards, 6.1 yds/attempt.
Week 2 against Minnesota: 1 td 1 pick for 243 yards, 7.8 yds/attempt
Detroit held up better than Minnesota against Freeman and I believe they will do even better against McNabb.
I don't think the quarterback situation on both teams requires a ton of analysis, but they both went up against the same defense in subsequent weeks so we can compare: McNabb threw for 228 yards against Tampa Bay (no TDs, no picks) and Stafford threw for 305 yards with 3 touchdowns and one interception.
And if you want to look at their stats through two games:
Matthew Stafford 7 TDs 2 INTs for 599 yards.
Donovan McNabb 1 TD 1 INT for 267 yards.
Detroit clearly has the edge on the passing game on all levels. I expect a 300 yard 3 TD performance out of Stafford this week, while McNabb will probably be sitting at about 225 yards with a pick.
Detroit's defense will sufficiently handle McNabb and Peterson while their passing game will continue to explode.
Final: 24 - 10 Lions.