In the season’s first meeting between the Detroit Lions and the Minnesota Vikings, Percy Harvin returned the opening kickoff 105 yards to the house, setting the tone in what turned out to be a 20-13 Vikings victory.
This Sunday in the Metrodome, the Lions look to return the favor and beat the Vikings on their house.
The game kicks off at 1:05p.m. and airs on Fox.
The kickoff return wasn’t the only Detroit blunder of the day, they also allowed a 77-yard punt return touchdown that put Minnesota up 20-6 in the third quarter.
The Lions offense outscored the Vikings’ offense, but it was Detroit’s dismal special teams that lost the game. Since this game against Minnesota, the Lions have not given up a special teams touchdown.
It seems the special teams ship has been righted, and it also seems that the Vikings are slumping. While Detroit has won two straight, the Vikes have lost two straight, and limp back home after suffering a 30-20 loss in Seattle last week.
Minnesota quarterback Christian Ponder has been atrocious of late, and threw for only 63 yards against Seattle. What’s worse for Vikings fans is the fact that Ponder has turned the ball over nine times since beating Detroit. In that span he has thrown just six touchdowns and has twice failed to throw for more than 70 yards.
Ponder will now face a Detroit defense that has been a very pleasant surprise this season: they have given up only 214 passing yards per game.
Basically, Ponder has been bad and the Lions’ pass defense has been good. And note that Percy Harvin is walking around with a limp and is doubtful for Sunday’s game.
Look for Leshoure to attack a Minnesota defense that has been poor against the run lately
All of these factors add up to the road team’s advantage. Offensively, Detroit is hitting their stride while Minnesota has faltered. Defensively, Detroit has been strong all year (except for the Tennessee game) while Minnesota has given up 801 total yards and 66 points in their last two contests. It should be noted that 354 of those 801 total yards have come on the ground.
I like Detroit in this game, but picking them to win in the Metrodome is never easy. It’s something the Lions have done only once since 1997, with that lone victory coming last year in one of the season’s most improbable comebacks.
This Lions team is better than it was in week four when these teams first met. In fact, the Lions might be better now than they’ve been in my lifetime (since 1990).
This is a game that the Lions must win, plain and simple. At 4-4, they still control their destiny in the NFC playoff race, but with two games against the Packers and one apiece with Houston and Chicago, there is no room for error.
A road win in Minnesota would lift the Lions to 5-4 and would give them a three-game winning streak for the first time this year.
Follow me on twitter @ScottPeceny