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WHAT I’LL BE WATCHING FOR
A few of the things I’ll be looking for today.

RUN, RUN, RUN, RUN, RUN

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And then run some more. I thought that would be the approach the Vikings would take last week against Miami, but they started the game with a more balanced approach that didn’t work so well.

Once they focused on running the ball though, surprise!, the offense started to click.

I know the Lions’ defensive backfield is the weakest link and the defensive line is the strongest but the team is still pretty bad against the run.

Given the current state of the Vikings offense, you’d think the best approach would be force feeding the Lions a steady diet of Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart. At this point, the offensive line is far better in run blocking than it is in pass protection.

Both Bryant McKinnie and Phil Loadholt have problems in pass protection, especially against speed rushers and with a speedy guy like Kyle Vandenbosch coming off the edge, why risk the potential damage to Brett Favre?

I want to see the Vikings pound the Lions into submission with punishment of Peterson’s hard running and then give them no breather by handing it to Toby Gerhart when Peterson needs some air.

SELECTIVE SHOTS DOWNFIELD
When the Vikings do pass, I expect Favre will want to take some shots downfield at his new, big target Hank Baskett to see what he can do.

The real question is when will Greg Camarillo show up?

SULLIVAN VS SUH
Teams have been putting their big men over John Sullivan to try and create mismatches with the relatively slight Vikings center at 6’4″, 301 lbs. That’s what the Dolphins did last week and for the most part Sullivan held his own.

This week, however, the matchup will be more even, with rookie defensive tackle and 2nd overall pick in this year’s draft, Ndamukong Suh matched up against Sullivan. Suh is 6’4″ as well and at 307 lbs., has only six pounds on Sullivan.

But with nine tackles and two sacks so far this year, Suh looks like he’s come ready to play in the NFL and might be the Lions’ Kevin Williams.

McKINNIE VS VANDEN BOSCH
Free agent defensive end pickup Kyle Vanden Bosch is the poor man’s Jared Allen. Which means he’s pretty damn good and that also means, of course, that Bryant McKinnie will have has hands full.

The one thing you can count on with Vanden Bosch is his relentless pursuit. And the one thing you can count on with McKinnie is his casual attitude to playing.

You do the math.

Will the Vikings give McKinnie any help? That will depend on how right tackle Phil Loadholt holds up against Turk McBride, who also has two sacks.

FIRST DEFENSIVE SERIES
Can we not let the Lions offense effortlessly march down the field and score on their first series, please?

CHRIS COOK
By all accounts, it looks like rookie cornerback Chris Cook is finally going to step onto the field. After all the build up of the preseason and the fact that he always seemed to be around the ball, I’m most definitely looking forward to seeing what Cook can do.

How will he handle a matching up against the 6’5″, 236 lbs., Calvin Johnson? All indications point to Cook being a ballhawk, something the Vikings secondary has not seen since Darren Sharper‘s first year.

Do we have a shutdown corner on our hands?

It’d be nice. The Vikings have had some Pro Bowl corners through our history but I don’t know that we’ve ever had a shutdown corner. As fantastic as Antoine Winfield is, he is not that. By a shutdown corner, I’m talking about the likes of a Deion Sanders or a Champ Bailey.

What those types of corners do is radically alter the approach of the offense by taking away half the field. Quarterbacks typically shy away from throwing at defenders who are adept at picking them off.

If you can rely on that type of corner, the defensive coordinator coordinator can focus more of his strategy on shutting down the other half of the field.

It’s like what a Jared Allen does for a defense. With a pass rusher like that, you don’t have to rely blitzing as much to get pressure on the quarterback and, in turn, your defense is far less exposed to the big play by opening up a gap where the blitzer used to be.

OUT OF THE BACKFIELD
The Lions like using screens and underneath passes, especially with rookie sensation Jahvid Best (what a great name!), either catching the ball on a screen–and he took one for 75 yards to the house last week [WATCH.]–or on underneath passes.

They also like to use the 6’5″, 265 lbs. second-year tight end Brandon Pettigrew on screens. Another size mismatch to worry about.

The screen pass was one of former Vikings running back Robert Smith‘s favorite plays, he used to say, because even if they know it’s coming, if executed well, sometimes there’s nothing the defense can do to stop it.

The Lions do a very good job of executing the screen, especially with their downfield blocking.

Thankfully, the Vikings are pretty damn good at sniffing out the screen.

30TH
That’s where the Lions defense ranks overall, 27th against the run and 30th against the pass.

INURIES
Lions: Receiver Nate Burleson (ankle) and linebacker Zack Follett (concussion) are out. Linebacker Landon Johnson (neck) is questionable as is middle linebacker DeAndre Levy (groin) but he’s expected to play. So is right guard Stephen Peterman (foot).

Vikings: Sidney Rice (hip) is out. Percy Harvin (hip) is probable. Cornerback Chris Cook is questionable but it looks like he’ll play. It, however, is questionable whether cornerback Cedric Griffin, who is questionable (knee), will take the field.

WE’RE WAY MORE POPULAR THAN YOU
Brett Favre is way more popular than Matthew Stafford, Shaun Hill, and Drew Stanton combined as this chart of searches performed at Google demonstrates:

Google Insights - Brett Favre vs Matthew Stafford, Shaun Hill & Drew Stanton - Small

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