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The new guard
Straight Up: Detroit
Against the Spread: Detroit -7.5 No higher.
Over/Under: Over 48 IF, and only if, the Vikings get Adrian Peterson back in the lineup.
The Vikings put on a much better performance on Sunday that I would have thought, and rookie QB Christian Ponder took an observable step forward on the growth curve. He led his offense to 32 points against an excellent Denver D. This rookie threw for 381 yards and three TDs.
Meanwhile, the Detroit Lions are self-destructing before our eyes over the last couple of weeks. Fifty-eight yards in penalties in three quarters on Sunday night.
That’s ridiculous when you have a tough defense, a veteran O-line, several good ball-catchers, and a man who can throw the ball 60 yards with a flick of his wrist and only four working fingers.
Matthew Stafford has to spend so much time trying to dig out of a hole that we forget how talented he truly is. But can we get him to shave? What is that supposed to be, anyway? Sexy? I am here to tell you—it’s not.
I can also tell you that if Nate Burleson gets one more offensive pass interference call, Stafford is going to kill him, and if any more young players get bone-headed penalties of any kind, those veteran O-linemen are going to kill them.
Lions RB Kevin Smith is questionable again after re-injuring his right ankle in Week 13. I hope he can go because he seems to deserve a chance at some consistent success. He is certainly talented.
If he cannot play, once again the Lions are down to an older but rested back in Maurice Morris and a talented younger guy, Keiland Williams, who is averaging 3.4 yards when he does get carries and has scored two TDs.
Both of these teams have shown great heart and great weaknesses. Detroit’s is its discipline and the Vikings’ is a rookie QB and a weak O-line.
Despite that O-line and young passer and the absence in the past two weeks of star RB Adrian Peterson, Minnesota has averaged 22.3 points per game over the last month. That is not bad. Of course, if Christian Ponder’s hip pointer keeps him out of action, things could change.
The Lions do better with an average of 27 points, but the Minnesota defense has only been giving up 28.7 points in the same time period.
Detroit has given up 31 points per weekend recently. Of course, they did play Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers in that time period, so we have to cut them some slack there.
Overall, I think that Detroit has been in disarray since Thanksgiving and I think the Vikings are steadily improving. I give the Lions the win at home, but I think it might be closer than many think.