Found September 28, 2012 on Fox Sports Detroit:
After back-to-back road losses to San Francisco and Tennessee, the Detroit Lions return to Ford Field Sunday to face the surprising, first-place Minnesota Vikings in a NFC North match-up. Here are five storylines to follow: 1. Technically, mathematically, theres no must-win game this early. So why does this feel like such a crucial one for the Lions? A victory only helps clean up the record a little bit, but a loss seemingly could put them in big trouble based on their upcoming schedule. Following a bye week, the Lions play four of their next five on the road. The road games include NFC contenders Philadelphia and Chicago, along with a rematch against Minnesota. Whats more, the two home games after that stretch are against Super Bowl contenders Green Bay and Houston. Bad seasons can happen fast in the 16-game NFL. Just ask Tampa Bay, which went from 10 victories in 2010 to four in 2011. The Lions arent publicly putting the same enormous pressure on this game's outcome, but they concede its an important one if only because the suddenly-revived Vikings are a division opponent. If you dont win within your division, you have no shot really to make it in the end, linebacker Justin Durant said. Lets add one more theory: If you start 1-3 and have the Lions schedule for the next seven games, you probably have no shot to make it in the end, either. So, yes, if theres ever a must-win game in September, this would seem to be it for the Detroit Lions. 2. Theres been a lot of hype about the defensive line for a couple years now. There appears to be depth and talent there. But there also continues to be inconsistency. Tennessee quarterback Jake Locker completed 29-of-42 passes for 378 yards. He never got sacked. The Lions were credited with only one quarterback hit, that by defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. Part of the reason is that Locker, like all of the Lions opponents, put a big emphasis on releasing the ball quickly, before the pressure arrives. But no sacks and one quarterback hit? Thats totally disappointing when you never get to the quarterback and make a big impact, Suh said. Thats why we put this type of defensive line together. Affect the quarterback, affect the run and make big plays. We obviously didnt do that." The Lions are giving up 31.3 points per game. If the D-line doesnt live up to its perceived potential, week-in and week-out, there are going to be a lot more disappointments similar to last weeks 44-41 overtime loss to the Titans. To make matters worse, defensive tackle Corey Williams will miss at least one game because of a knee injury. 3. They Lions are averaging only one takeaway per game, and they have no interceptions. If the trend continues, it's going to be a serious problem, perhaps one this team can't overcome. A year ago, the defense had its flaws, but at least created turnovers. The Lions ranked No. 3 in takeaways with 2.1 per game. This year, after three weeks, they rank tied for 20th in the same category. As a result, the Lions are tied for 21st in turnover margin (minus-0.7) compared to finishing tied for fourth last year (plus-0.6). No statistic in football accurately separates winning teams from losing teams more than turnover margin. You win the turnover battle, you should win the football game. 4. The Vikings have lost their last 11 NFC North games, but they took the Lions down to the wire both times last year. A 3-13 team in 2011, Minnesota shocked the league last Sunday with an upset of San Francisco, which was being hyped as the NFCs top team after beating Green Bay and Detroit. Second-year quarterback Christian Ponder (Florida State) has completed 70.1 percent of his passes to rank second in the NFL. Hes fifth in passer rating. The offense also has been boosted by the somewhat miraculous return from knee surgery by running back Adrian Peterson. Are the Vikings that much better? Or did they just catch the 49ers napping? Well know more Sunday because this is too important for the Lions not to bring their A game. 5. In his last nine games against Detroit, Vikings defensive end Jared Allen has 12.5 sacks. The Lions offensive line has allowed only four sacks in three games on a total of 135 passing attempts. But this is going to be a serious challenge for them, especially tackles Jeff Backus and Gosder Cherilus, because Allen tends to move around and line up in different spots. There are a lot of plays where it looks like hes out of the play hes stymied in the rush, been chipped (but) hes very good at making the off-scheduled play, Lions coach Jim Schwartz said. A lot of guys can make the plays that come to them. He can go create a play somewhere. INJURY REPORT Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (hip) is listed as probable after practicing Friday for the second straight day. Running back Mikel Leshoure (groin), tight end Tony Scheffler (calf), linebacker Justin Durant (back) and safety Amari Spievey (groin) are all questionable. Safety Louis Delmas, who hasn't practiced since undergoing knee surgery in early August, remains doubtful.
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
RELATED ARTICLES

Detroit Lions injury report: key starters struggling with nagging problems

Tomorrow, of course, is Sunday. That means up until kickoff, agonizing about key injuries will be the focus for Detroit Lions' fans everywhere. Fortunately, one piece of good news regards the quarterback position, where it looks as if things aren't as bad as they initially appeared last Sunday. What are the five most important injuries to watch this week, as the Lions...

Lions' Hill best of the backups

ALLEN PARK, Mich. Its not going to happen in Detroit because Matthew Stafford is clearly established as the face of the franchise. But Shaun Hill is good enough to get a quarterback controversy started in other places. When you see him do things like he did Sunday, leading the Lions to two touchdowns in the final 18 seconds to force overtime, it makes you wonder why Hill isnt...

Stafford looks good for Sunday

He wasn't limping Wednesday and he was back to practice Thursday. All signs point to Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford returning for Sunday's game against the Minnesota Vikings at Ford Field. Stafford came out of Sunday's overtime loss at Tennessee in the final minutes of regulation when he aggravated an ailing right hip. He also missed Wednesday's practice...

Back to the drawing board for the Detroit Lions

After suffering both an injury to star quarterback Matthew Stafford and a loss to the Tennessee Titans on Sunday, it’s fair to say that the Detroit Lions have been left reeling. Sitting at 1-2, the Lions have to be concerned with the plethora of missed opportunities in their first three games. Now Detroit faces the Minnesota Vikings, a team that is coming off a victory against...

Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions NFL Week 4 Preview: Will Stafford Bounce Back?

http://aeryssports.com/barry-sanders-memorial-blog/tag/matthew-stafford/ Matthew Stafford and the Lions are coming off a tough loss to the Titans, and it was a game in which could come back to haunt the Lions more than Green Bay’s loss to Seattle. Stafford (hamstring) was not healthy enough to play in the fourth quarter, but he is expected to be better than ever at home against...

Matthew Stafford On Track For Week 4

Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford practiced again on Friday and it looks like he's going to play Sunday against Minnesota. Stafford left last Sunday's game against Tennessee with an injured hip.Fantasy Spin:The Lions will need a win this week to avoid dropping to 1-3 for the year so expect Stafford to play this weekend and as always, throw often.

Lions QB Stafford practices again

Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford practiced for the second straight day Friday and is expected to start against the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday. Stafford left last week's loss against the Tennessee Titans with a leg injury and did not practice Wednesday. Tight end Tony Scheffler (calf) practiced Friday and is expected to play Sunday. Safety Louis Delmas remains...

Cook can't wait to face Lions' Johnson

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. Cornerback Chris Cook has faced off against Detroit Lions All-Pro receiver Calvin Johnson twice in his three NFL seasons, taking his share lumps of and also demonstrating why he was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings with their top pick in the 2010 draft.Cook is eagerly awaiting the third matchup between the two when Minnesota travels to Detroit for this weekend...

Minnesota Vikings vs. Detroit Lions: Three Bold Predictions

Cue the fish alien.This game is a trap for the Detroit Lions.They gave up a large number of big plays last week against the Titans, and were down 14 points with 30 seconds left to play. They got lucky and landed a series of miracles to reach overtime, but they were easily beaten in that game.The Minnesota Vikings did the exact opposite this weekend - they stunned everyone by beating...

Lions’ numbers tell their tale

The Detroit Lions are 1-2 for a reason. Some of their key stats explain why that is.
NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.