We’re just a day away from the Detroit Lions and Minnesota Vikings kicking off the 2013 season from Ford Field. Who gets the all-important division win? The SideLion Report staffers give their take.
Justin Simon: Thankfully for Detroit, they open at Ford Field to start the season. This game will be the first time we get to see the entire new-look offense on the field together. I expect Stafford to take multiple shots downfield early to test the Vikings young secondary. I still don’t think the Lions will have much of a run game despite Reggie Bush carrying the rock, but what Bush loses as a runner he’ll be able to make up for as a receiver.
Adrian Peterson will be a factor for Minnesota, but if they are forced to play catch-up Christian Ponder won’t be able to lead them back through the air. If the Lions can hold off the personal fouls and special teams miscues, they should be able to come out of this one with a win. Lions win, 24-17.
Aaron Meckes: Adrian Peterson is the best running back in the NFL, and it will show Sunday against a very mediocre Detroit linebacking corps. Calvin Johnson is the best wide receiver in the NFL, and it will show Sunday against a very mediocre (but young and talented) Minnesota defensive backfield. The x-factor will be the play of Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder. I think the Lions defensive line gets to him and Detroit holds on for a crucial opening day division win. Lions 31, Vikings 30.
Marty Medvedik: The road to redemption for the Detroit Lions begins at home against the Vikings. The Lions will bust out of the gate and handle the Vikings with ease. Matt Stafford will look like a Wizard with Megatron and Reggie on the field together for the first time. The defense limits it’s only weapon, Yo Adrian, to fifty some yards. The defensive line starts earning its rep here in game one. Lions 32, Vikings 17.
Zac Snyder: Can a season opener be a “must win” game? If so, this one qualifies as such for the Lions. If the Lions are going to be anything this year a home game against the Vikings is a game they need to win. The division is shaping up to be too deep to get off to an 0-1 start against a division opponent. With so much on the line so early, the Lions will draw from an energized home crowd to do enough to win. Lions 20, Vikings 16.
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. Lions win, 31-24
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! 24-20.
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. Lions 27, Vikings 20.