The following guest post for Lions Gab is courtesy of Joe Brown from RotoGenie.com http://rotogenie.com/, Free Fantasy Sports Information and Advice website.
It’s no secret what the objectives are going to be when the Lions defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham matches wits with Vikings offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave—limiting the effectiveness of Adrian Peterson. Below is an analysis of each team’s key offensive and defensive unit, coaching, and special teams along with a prediction on the outcome.
Vikings Offensive Line vs. Detroit Defensive Line
The Vikings deserve credit for the quick turnaround of their o-line in the last two years. Both tackle spots are borderline elite with Matt Kalil at LT and Phil Loadholdt at RT. Center John Sullivan is starting to earn the respect he deserves.
While Detroit ranked in the middle of the league last year against the run (16th – 118.1 YPG) and should improve upon that ranking when 2013 is in the books, keeping Peterson in the 100-120 yard range and maybe one touchdown should be enough to give them a great shot at winning this game.
Ndamakong Suh and Nick Fairley are simply too much for Sullivan and both guards to handle on the interior, however, which will require the occasional attention Kalil and, or, Loadholdt. This should free up defensive ends Jason Jones and Ezekiel Ansah, assuming he plays after what appeared to be a concussion suffered in the preseason.
Vikings Pass Offense vs. Detroit Pass Defense
While Minnesota drastically upgraded their receiving corps in the offseason by signing conference rival, Greg Jennings and drafting the explosive Cordarralle Patterson they still lack an above average quarterback to throw them the ball.
The Lions secondary enters week one as healthy as the unit will likely be all year. Yes, that was a not so indirect reference to the inability of Louis Delmas, the talented but oft-injured Safety to stay on the field. However, the addition of arguably the most underrated safety in the league, Glover Quin, along with corners Chris Houston and rookie Darius Slay will effectively contain the Vikings aerial attack and should come up with a turnover or two.
Controlling the impact of tight end Kyle Rudolph on the shorter to intermediate routes Ponder can handle will be a key factor.
Detroit Offensive Line vs. Minnesota Defensive Line
Minnesota has their own dominant defensive line led by Lions-killer Jared Allen along with his 13.5 career sacks against Detroit and Brian Robison at the edges. Robison is underrated and his 8.5 sacks in 2012 warrant extra attention from Lions offensive coordinator Scott Linehan. The status of stalwart Kevin Williams’s availability is still questionable but his absence would ease the burden on the Lions as his replacement is the promising, yet unproven, rookie Sharrif Floyd. Versatile lineman Everson Griffen can provide pressure and will need to be accounted for.
The Vikings linebackers group is among the best in the NFC with All-Pro Chad Greenway and Captain E.J. Henderson leading the way.
Detroit Pass Offense vs. Minnesota Pass Defense
Detroit will look to isolate Reggie Bush on screens and dump offs in the flat, preferably away from All-Pro linebacker Chad Greenway.
Missing from defensive coordinator Alan Williams secondary is Antoine Winfield, despite his very productive 2012 season. However, he does have a young talented trio with Chris Cook moving into the top spot drawing the unfortunate assignment opposite Megatron. Second-year cornerback Josh Robinson and rookie Xavier Rhodes have outstanding athleticism but can’t draw on much experience lining up against a passing attack as formidable as Matt Stafford and Co.
Harrison Smith will help over the top against Johnson but, honestly, does it really matter? Teams often blanket him with three DB’s and he still gets it done.
Leslie Frazier has a better overall record as head coach, 16-22, but his staff lacks the continuity compared to Jim Schwartz’s ability to depend on two coordinators who were onetime head coaches themselves.
Blair Walsh is one of the rising stars at his position and rookie Cordarralle Patterson is far more tantalizing of a return man option than Michael Spurlock.
Prediction – Detroit 27 Minnesota 16