Week 1: Minnesota Vikings Vs. Detroit Lions
Braden Shackelford: The Vikings have the best running back in the NFL in Adrian Peterson, but their passing game is still a work in progress. The Vikings did a great job acquiring talent on the outside in the explosive Cordarrelle Patterson and Greg Jennings, but I’m still not sold on Christian Ponder who has made a living handing the ball off to Peterson and completing short passes. Against the Lions, who have one of the best defensive lines in the NFL, the Vikings are going to have to rely on Christian Ponder stretching the defense to create for his all-pro back and I don’t see that happening. If the Lions can keep the Vikings special teams unit from scoring two touchdowns like they did early last season, they should be able to win their home opener.
Prediction: Lions win 31-24 (1-0)
Matt Pelc: Ahh, the all-important first game of the season in the NFL. Fans of the teams that go 1-0 start booking rooms in the Super Bowl city, and fans that aren’t as fortunate want the coach, GM, owner and starting quarterback given a one-way ticket to Antarctica.
For the Detroit Lions, however, it cannot be understated how important it is to win the first game, and how easy it would be for despair to set in should they lose. The Lions have a brutal schedule starting the year, with four of the following five games on the road.
The Minnesota Vikings present an interesting challenge for the Lions. Minnesota has tormented Detroit to the tune of 23-6 since 1998.
The Lions were swept by the Vikings last season, but may have done themselves in with mistakes (special teams’ touchdowns) in the early season game at Ford Field. Limit those mistakes and Adrian Peterson (tall order, I know) and Detroit could start 1-0.
Will they? Yes!
Prediction: Lions win 24-20 (1-0)
Dean Holden: The Lions get lucky starting the season against Minnesota at home, because the Metrodome has been a graveyard for Lions victories second in horrors to only Lambeau Field. We know the Vikings will be able to run the ball with Adrian Peterson, much like teams know the Stafford-to-Johnson connection will happen. Assuming those factors even out, the biggest factors are whether Christian Ponder can establish himself with his new-look passing offense, and whether Jared Allen will wreak havoc on Riley Reiff the way he did Jeff Backus. If the Lions can keep Ponder off-balance and Allen in check, the stars should align for a victory.
Prediction: Lions 27, Vikings 20 (1-0)