When last we saw the Vikings on the field, they were fending off the scrappy but overmatched Packers to sweep that particular season series and bump their record to 7-1.
Since then, the Bears and Packers have both suffered more embarrassing losses and fallen further behind. As we roll into Week 10, the NFC North race is on the verge of becoming a rout.
The Vikings can take another step toward putting away a second straight division crown with a victory today over the Lions. In the teams’ first meeting, back in Week 2, Detroit took an early 10-0 lead, only to watch the Vikings score 27 unanswered on their way to an easy 27-13 win.
Since then, the Lions have managed to win but a single game – still one more than they won all last season – while the Vikings have asserted themselves as one of the powers of the NFL.
Detroit will face a different Minnesota team than the one they saw in Ford Field 8 weeks ago. That Vikings squad was still feeling its way with Brett Favre as quarterback. Now, The Favre has settled in to the offense, and developed a rapport with his receivers. The inconsistent attack of the early season has been replaced by a prolific one.
This spells trouble for a Detroit defense that has surrendered nearly 30 points/game, and languishes near the bottom of all the statistical rankings.
Of course, conventional wisdom says that the Lions always play the Vikings tough, even in the Metrodome. If ever there was a time to throw out conventional wisdom, however, this would be it.
Everything – and I mean everything – sets up for the Vikings to rout the Lions. Minnesota is coming off a bye week rested and rejuvenated. Brett Favre, despite myriad little nagging physical complaints, looks like he’s at the top of his game; and remember that Favre has thrown more TD passes against the Lions than any other team.
Defensively, the Vikes will once again be without star cornerback Antoine Winfield, but that might not matter against the Lions’ rookie QB Matthew Stafford, who threw five picks in his last game, and today will have to contend with a ferocious – and well-rested – Vikings pass rush (that, thanks to the development of Ray Edwards, now comes from more than just Jared Allen‘s direction).
And then there’s Adrian Peterson.
It was a slightly frustrating first half for AD, who broke 100 yards only twice, and had but a single truly dominant performance, all the way back in Week 1 against the Browns. In the first game vs. the Lions, Peterson ran for 92 yards on just 15 carries, and scored a 27 yard TD in the middle of the 3rd to give the Vikings the lead.
Still, despite the “disappointment” of the first half, Peterson’s per-carry average remains exactly where it was at the end of 2008 – 4.8 yards/run – and he is 3rd in the league in touchdowns with 9. This week, a sure-to-be-frisky AD faces a Lions defense that will be without starting linebacker Ernie Sims, may be missing a second starting linebacker in Larry Foote, and has been banged up on the line all season.
As if the Lions didn’t have enough bad news, this week Darrell Bevell said Steve Hutchinson is feeling better after being nagged by a bad back since preseason. A fully functioning Hutch should mean slightly bigger holes for Peterson, who hasn’t always had the benefit of a dominating offensive line in ’09.
Predictions are not my bag, but I’m willing to throw one out there this week and say that Adrian will top 150 and score at least 2 touchdowns. Like I said before, forget about that “the Lions always play the Vikings tough” refrain. It doesn’t matter this week.
This week, the Vikings are one of the best in the NFL and the Lions are one of the worst, and it will show on the field. At minimum, we can expect a three touchdown runaway for the Vikings. And if the Lions turn the ball over a couple of times, the Vikes could creep over the 4o point mark for the first time this season.
Is there any feeling more wonderful than mid-season cockiness?
Topics: Adrian Peterson, Antoine Winfield, Brett Favre, Chicago Bears, Cleveland Browns, Darrell Bevell, Detroit Lions, Ernie Sims, Green Bay Packers, Jared Allen, Larry Foote, Matthew Stafford, Minnesota Vikings, Ray Edwards, Steve Hutchinson