Lions vs. Vikings: What to Watch for in NFC North Rematch

Steven GerwelContributor IIINovember 11, 2012

DETROIT, MI - SEPTEMBER 30: Adrian Peterson #28 of the Minnesota Vikings runs for a fshort gain as DeAndre Levy #54 and Erik Coleman #24 of the Detroit Lions attempt to make the stop during the game at Ford Field on September 30, 2012 in Detroit, Michigan. The Vikings defeated the Lions 20-13.  (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Leon Halip/Getty Images

The Detroit Lions (4-4) will travel to Mall of America Field to take on the Minnesota Vikings (5-4) in a NFC North showdown between two teams desperate to get back on track.

Kickoff time is at 1:00 p.m. ET.

After starting the season with a 2-4 record, the Lions have found some consistency by winning three of their last four games, including back-to-back wins against the Seahawks and Jaguars.

The Vikings were the surprise team of the season with a 4-1 record early on, but after dropping three of their last four, they have slipped in the NFC North standings.

These two rivals met in Week 4, resulting in a 20-13 victory for Minnesota.

Now that the Vikings have the home-field advantage, a repeat victory seems likely, but don't count out a Lions team that has improved since Week 4.

If you plan to watch this event, here are several keys to keep an eye on:


Megatron Must End TD Drought

During the Week 4 matchup between these two teams, the Vikings were able to hold Calvin Johnson to just 54 receiving yards and kept him out of the endzone.

That game was the beginning of a six-game touchdown drought for Johnson, which he is still trying to snap out of.

Johnson had a respectable 129-yard performance against Jacksonville a week ago, but the Jaguars were able to prevent him from scoring.

Since the drought began with Minnesota, it's only fitting that it ends with them as well.

If Johnson can run rampant over the secondary and find the end zone, it could be a long day for the Vikings.


Keep Adrian Peterson Rolling

Despite his 2011 knee injury, Adrian Peterson has remained productive all season long, but he only turned in one 100-yard performance in the first six games.

Since then, Peterson has three consecutive 100-yard games, including four touchdowns during that stretch.

He has been unstoppable of late, and even leads the league in runs for 20 yards or more (according to Sports Illustrated).

Adrian Peterson leads the league with 11 runs of 20-plus yards and his drive for quick recovery has been remarkable.

— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) November 8, 2012

Peterson doesn't just put points on the board, but he allows the Vikings to kill the clock with the ground game, which is exactly what they need against the Lions.

If Peterson can sustain drives, it keeps Matthew Stafford and the explosive Lions offense on the bench and off the field.


Can Matthew Stafford Avoid Interceptions?

Matthew Stafford threw four interceptions in the first two games of the season, while last Sunday's game ended a three-game streak with at least one interception.

Stafford has been a shell of his 2011 self who threw for 41 touchdowns, but he has still been able to effectively move the ball through the air on a consistent basis.

If Stafford can cut back on mental errors, it would go a long way towards bringing back the dangerous 2011 offense that opponents feared.