Tale Of The Tape: Minnesota Vikings At Detroit Lions
- QuarterbackChristian Ponder had a difficult 2012 season for the Vikings, and many expected the Vikings to move in a different direction because of his inconsistency. However, head coach Leslie Frazier is counting on Ponder to show some improvement this year. While he does not have a big arm, Ponder has a chance to be a more accurate passer if he can keep his cool under pressure.Matthew Stafford is paid like he is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. He has not shown the consistency to earn that kind of status. However, Stafford has a strong arm and the courage to stand in the pocket and take the hit before making a play. The Lions would like to see a bit more consistency and accuracy from him.
- OffenseAdrian Peterson is probably the only running back in the league who can take over a game consistently. The passing game has become the dominant offense in the NFL, but Peterson is a throwback who can approach 150 yards every game. The Vikings are hoping that Greg Jennings can get open and Ponder can get the ball to him so some of the pressure on Peterson can be eliminated.The Lions have a chance to be explosive on the offensive end since they have Calvin Johnson (knee) catching the ball. He is one of the top receiving weapons in the league when healthy. The Lions believe that former Saint and Dolphin Reggie Bush will give them a credible running attack. Bush has plenty of quickness and the skills to make big plays as a runner or a receiver.
- DefenseThe Vikings played solid defense throughout the majority of the 2012 season, and they should be able to improve on that performance this year. The Vikings were 16th overall on defense and 11th against the run. Minnesota will depend on DE Jared Allen (12.0 sacks) to pressure opposing quarterbacks. FS Harrison Smith is one of the team’s best tacklers.The Lions took a big loss when pass rushing DE Cliff Avril signed with the Seahawks in the offseason. That means that head coach Jim Schwartz will depend on Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley to play consistently every week from the DT position. Middle linebacker Stephen Tulloch is a tackling machine who can help Suh and Fairley shut down the interior run.
- Special TeamsThe Vikings will depend on PK Blair Walsh to give them a consistent kicking game once again. He made 35-of-38 FG attempts last year with a long of 56 yards. Rookie Cordarelle Patterson has game-breaking speed and should give the Vikings a boost to their return game.Long-time Lions kicker Jason Hanson finally called it a career and that may be bad news for the Lions. Former Eagle and 49er David Akers takes over for Hanson, and he’s coming off an inconsistent year in which he made just 29-of-42 attempts. The return game is likely to be ordinary, but Kassim Osgood leads the coverage teams which do a solid job.
The Vikings desperately need Ponder to show some improvement and consistency so AP does not have to carry the team on his shoulders. The Lions should have an edge in this game due to Stafford’s edge at the quarterback status and the combination of Suh and Fairley on the defensive line. -Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports contributor