NFL Week 4 Picks: Scouting Report for Minnesota Vikings vs. Detroit Lions
It is the 102nd meeting between these teams going back to 1934. Minnesota leads the series with 66 wins to 33 losses and two ties, but Detroit has won the last three.
Division games are always tough, and this one shouldn't buck the trend.
Vikings Team Rankings
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Minnesota has been solid statistically, but the stats from the first three weeks are somewhat misleading:
The Vikings right now are an above-average team, which is better than the bottom of the pile, where many had picked them to be this season.
Minnesota Offensive Ranking
Points per Game: 23.3 (15th)
Minnesota Defensive Ranking
Points per Game: 19.7 (9th)
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Peterson has 58 carries for 230 yards and two touchdowns through three games. A meager 4.0 yards per carry.
Harvin, meanwhile, has the same rushing average, but also has 27 catches for 277 catches in the air. He's also Christian Ponder's favorite target.
Kyle Rudolph is another target who could hit Detroit at its biggest weakness. Unless the Lions safeties stop taking risks in coverage, it could be a long day.
Detroit has done a good job shutting down the run, but Peterson will get his touches and yards–the question will be how often and how quickly he gets them.
If the Lions can slow him down early and get out to a lead, they'll force Ponder to throw, and that Viking offensive line can't handle the pressure for long.
Expect a lot of screens and quick passes, much like Tennessee used to slow down Detroit's pass rush.
Detroit is playing a lot of soft zone due to injuries in their defensive backfield, so there will be holes to exploit and chances for big plays.
In other words, a perfect storm for Ponder and Harvin to have big days.
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This isn't the Minnesota run defense that has been a brick wall the last few seasons. While it haven't given up a rushing TD yet, it is allowing 3.9 yards per carry.
Detroit cannot fall behind and allow Jared Allen and crew to sit on the pass.
The Vikings back seven is vulnerable. It hasn't given up a lot of yardage, but opposing QBs have compiled a 94.5 QB rating this season.
Mikel Leshoure will get a chance against a weaker rushing defense to prove that last week's effort against the Titans wasn't a fluke.
Allen and Brian Robison always seem to do well against Detroit tackles, Jeff Backus and Gosder Cherilus, so Stafford or Hill might end up having to break from the pocket more often than they would like.
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This is one of those games that you love to see on the calendar—but hate to think about the possible outcomes.
A loss would move the Lions to 1-3, with four of the next five on the road.
Division rivals know each other. Yes, there's the occasional blowout, but the majority of inter-divisional games are decided by less than a touchdown.
I don't think this game will be any different.
This needs to be a break-out game for Detroit. After playing "cute" (via freep.com) for the last few weeks, it's time to play for real. The hype of last season has run its course and it's time to start playing up to the talent level. Minnesota will provide the Lions with their share of challenges. Harvin and Peterson have the ability to score on every play.
I think the Lions have something to prove this week, which is never a good sign for a team coming into Ford Field.
Prediction: Lions 34—Vikings 24