One man's prediction: Detroit 27, Vikings 23 Since the start of the 2010 season, the Vikings are 1-11 in division games and 4-15 in games away from the Metrodome. They built confidence with last week's dominance of San Francisco, but the Lions need this game more. Plus, Detroit has the trump card: Calvin Johnson going against a rapidly growing but still vulnerable secondary.
The deep end Through three games, the Vikings have attempted 97 passes but have only two completions of longer than 25 yards. Enter Jerome Simpson, a free-agent acquisition coming off a three-game suspension. Adrian Peterson, Percy Harvin and Kyle Rudolph still likely will have more prominent roles, but the Vikings want to turn Simpson loose ASAP. Said coordinator Bill Musgrave: "He's got more burst and more top-end speed than any of the receivers we have on the roster right now."
Worth testing Another plus in the Vikings' push for big plays: In last week's loss at Tennessee, Detroit's pass rush struggled and left a mediocre secondary with too much ground to cover. The Lions had no sacks and only one quarterback hit. And they had major breakdowns in allowing Titans TD passes of 65 and 71 yards. Among their cornerbacks, Bill Bentley is promising but still a rookie and Chris Houston isn't exactly "Night Train" Lane. Starting free safety Louis Delmas is still out because of a knee injury.
Defensive Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway has been all over the field in the opening three games and had his best outing last week, recording 13 tackles and two sacks and playing with a contagious ferocity. Said coach Leslie Frazier: "His leadership on the sideline, on the field making the big plays, that's what we need from him." Greenway has 33 tackles this season, third best in the NFL. And he's gotten great help from middle linebacker Jasper Brinkley, who stepped up big last week.
MANO-A-MANO: A MATCHUP TO WATCH
Today: Vikings receiver Percy Harvin vs. Lions receiver Calvin Johnson
About Harvin Leads the NFL in catches (27) and has 319 yards from scrimmage.
About Johnson Leads the NFL in receiving yardage (369); had 96 catches, 1,681 yards and 16 TDs in 2011.
Advantage: Johnson Two big-time receivers, two very different styles. Johnson had a two-season head start but leads Harvin in career 100-yard games (23-7).
THE BIG NUMBER
2,053 Career points for Detroit kicker Jason Hanson, fourth most in NFL history behind Morten Andersen (2,544), Gary Anderson (2,434) and John Carney (2,062). Hanson is in his 21st season and coming off a four-field-goal effort in Tennessee.
Mikel Leshoure, Lions: After missing all of 2011 because of a torn Achilles tendon and being suspended the first two games this season, the powerful tailback had 26 carries, 100 yards and a TD last week in his NFL debut. Detroit hopes his presence lends balance to its pass-heavy attack.