Vikings Invade Motown
First-round draft choices made an immediate impact for the Minnesota Vikings and Detroit Lions in their season openers. Now, the two NFC North rivals hope to get similar production from their heralded rookies when the Lions host the Vikings on Sunday at Ford Field.
Minnesota will be going for its 11th straight victory over Detroit, but this is the first time since 2000 that both teams will have winning records going into the game.
Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Detroit -3 point spread favorites (View NFL Football odds) for today's game, the over/under has been set at 42.5 total points (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 52% of bets for this game have been placed on Minnesota +3 (View NFL Football bet percentages).
The Vikings got off to a fast start in Week 1 thanks to Adrian Peterson, the seventh overall pick in April's draft. The running back from Oklahoma stepped in for the injured Chester Taylor and racked up 163 yards from scrimmage - the most by an NFC player - to lead Minnesota to a 24-3 win over Atlanta. In addition to rushing for 103 yards, Peterson caught an acrobatic 60-yard touchdown pass in the victory.
"I always expect to help the team and make big plays," said Peterson, who became the first player in NFL history to rush for 100 yards and catch a 60-yard touchdown pass in his debut. "This is what you dream about the night before, the big plays you want to make."
Now with Taylor potentially limited by the oblique injury he suffered in the opening quarter on Sunday, Peterson is aiming for another big day.
"Every time he has the football, you have the feeling he's going to break it," Vikings quarterback Tarvaris Jackson said. "That is the excitement he gives you. He has a different tempo about himself. He has a lot of speed and power, pretty much the whole package, so every time you hand him the football, you're expecting something good is going to happen."
Taylor is questionable for Sunday's game, although Minnesota coach Brad Childress said the two running backs will split carries when he returns to full health.
The Lions have similar excitement over receiver Calvin Johnson after the second overall pick caught a touchdown pass in Detroit's 36-21 win over Oakland on Sunday.
Johnson, who was regarded as the best prospect in the draft, finished with four catches for 70 yards and helped Detroit open the season with a victory for the fourth time in the last five years.
While Detroit has had plenty of success in season openers, the team finished just 3-13 last year and for its sixth straight losing season. But with Johnson around and the Lions' players now familiar with second-year coach Rod Marinelli, there's hope in Detroit.
"There's definitely a winning attitude here," said Johnson, who was one of eight Detroit players to catch a pass on Sunday. "I wasn't here, but a lot of guys say it's totally different around here this year. This is a great way to come out and get started."
Jon Kitna threw for 289 yards in the opener, and his 878 passing yards and 10 touchdowns over his last three regular season games ranks first in the NFL.
Kitna, however, had two interceptions against the Raiders and his 22 last season led the NFC. He was picked off six times in two games against the Vikings last season - his only career starts against Minnesota - and will have to be cautious this week.
"Those interceptions, they came late in the game when we were in desperate situations," Kitna said. "I'm not going to be one that takes a sack and protects my rating. I don't think about that. I'm just trying to do anything I can to make a play and help this team win, so if it gets ugly, it gets ugly. The key for us is, let's get leads in games and we'll see those interception numbers dwindle drastically."
Minnesota returned two interceptions for touchdowns against the Falcons last week, the first time the team accomplished that since a 24-14 win over Detroit on Nov. 23, 2003. The Vikings' defense scored four touchdowns in the preseason.
Minnesota, which led the NFL in rush defense last season, held Atlanta to 96 yards on the ground, the 14th time in the last 15 games it has held an opponent under 100 yards rushing.
"I think we did great last year and we did good in the preseason," said defensive tackle Kevin Williams, who returned the first interception 54 yards for a touchdown. "We pretty much got all our guys back and we wanted to show that we can be one of the top defenses in the league and this was a great step."
Detroit went 2-6 at home last season while Minnesota was 3-5 on the road. The Vikings are 5-0 at Ford Field.
By: Staci Richards - theSpread.com - Email Us
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