Lions-Vikings three keys
Tomorrow's game is blacked out locally, but I'll be here with a live blog beginning at 12:45 p.m. Just as with the Tampa Bay game, the blog will be more insight and opinion than play-by-play, but bring your questions and I'll answer away whenever possible.
No video preview again this week, but as always I've got three keys to the Lions getting their first win. And to be clear, I've changed my tune on their chances of winning this year. After watching the Carolina, Tampa Bay and Tennessee defeats, I think the Lions are headed straight towards 0-16.
Now, the keys:
1. Tackle. The Lions are the worst tackling team in the NFL and Peterson, the NFL's leading rusher, is the most violent, hard-to-bring-down runner in the league. He runs hard and denies to be on the ground, defensive tackle Cory Redding said. In the Lions' 12-10 loss to Minnesota in October, Peterson carried 25 times for 111 yards but didn't have a rush longer 13. According to STATS, Peterson leads the league with 19 carries over 15 yards this yera and the Lions have allowed at least one rush that long by every opponent but Minnesota. If he breaks out today, the Lions don't stand a chance.
2. Quarterback play. Daunte Culpepper has extra incentive playing against his old team, but he needs to play within himself. Culpepper isn't the playmaker he was before his knee injury, that much is clear from his time with the Lions. In four starts he's committed seven turnovers and been benched three times. A mistake-free game today is about the Lions' only chance to win.
3. Superior punting. Or, taking one of Rod Marinelli's favorite preseason phrases a step further, superior special-teams play. The Lions have allowed two punt-return touchdowns in the past six weeks and last week Adam Jennings muffed a punt return to set up a Tennessee field goal. If Shaun McDonald can't play Sunday, Aveion Cason will handle kicks and punts. Minnesota's given up the most punt-return yards in the league this year, so opportunities should be there to make plays.