Week 1 of the new NFL season sees the Minnesota Vikings visit Ford Field to face off against the divisional rival Detroit Lions. Both teams have had exciting offseasons. The Vikings had three first round draft picks after they traded Percy Harvin to the Seattle Seahawks, and with that added some quality prospects in Cordarrelle Patterson, Xavier Rhodes and Shariff Floyd.
The Lions meanwhile replaced Jahvid Best with free agent Reggie Bush and drafted Ezekial Ansah, whom the Lions coaching staff raved about during their time with him at the Senior Bowl. The two teams are nicely balanced going into Week 1.
The Vikings beat the Lions twice last season, and those losses will be fresh in the minds of the Lions’ veteran players. When analyzing those two games, the first thing that becomes clear is the Lions’ inability to run the ball well. In the first game, the Lions had a total of 55 rushing yards; the second wasn’t much better with 60 rushing yards.
This is where Bush will be the difference. He will excel in draw plays and handoffs from the shotgun. The Vikings will have to account for Calvin Johnson, and this is where Bush will have some explosive plays in both the passing and running game.
Matthew Stafford now has the best group of wide receivers he has ever had with the Lions and if the Vikings somehow manage to cover Johnson, Nate Burleson and Ryan Broyles, Stafford will simply dump it off to Bush and let him go for a positive gain.
Defensively, the Detroit secondary is a lot better, free agent signing Glover Quin is the perfect complement to the energetic safety play of a healthy Louis Delmas. Second-round pick Darius Slay is still very raw, struggling in the preseason with man coverage; however, he has 4.3 speed and has a great attitude. I expect Christian Ponder to target him and then quickly regret it when Slay picks him off.
There has been much talk throughout the NFL about the defensive line of the Lions. It will be dominant this season, but maybe not in this game.
The Lions, as far as I can remember, have never been able to stop Adrian Peterson, and that won’t change come Sunday. Peterson will eclipse 100 yards and a touchdown, but in a hostile and optimistic Ford Field, Ponder will choke and throw three picks, allowing the Lions and Stafford to comfortably take the season opener by a score of 34-14.