Vikings vs. Lions: Matchups to Watch
1. Chris Cook vs. Calvin Johnson
At first glance, this may not seem like a real matchup at all. One guy has developed into all-pro and is widely considered the best WR in the game, while the other has struggled to stay on the field for a variety of reasons. However, last year, when the Vikes played the Lions in week 4, Chris Cook held Calvin to 5 catches for 54 yards and 0 TDs. Chris Cook missed the week 10 matchup due to injury- the result: Calvin went wild- he reeled in 12 catches for 207 yards and a TD. Look for Cook to be physical with Johnson, and receive help from both the linebackers and the safeties to ensure that Johnson does not have a repeat 200+ yard performance on Sunday.
2. Vikings' offensive line vs. Lions' defensive line
While the Vikings O line returns all five starters from last year, in which they helped pave the way for Adrian Peterson's monster year, the line has struggled in the preseason. The season opener will be a great test to determine if there is something for Vikings' fans to be concerned about, or if the line was just kicking off the rust from the offseason. The Lions' D line boasts one of the best defensive tackle combinations in the league with Suh and Fairley, and the team is extremely excited about the explosiveness of rookie DE Ziggy Ansah. Ansah's status for Sunday is uncertain after he suffered a concussion in the preseason. While the Vikings' faithful likely hopes he sits this one out, if he does play it will be a good test for Matt Kalil who has followed up his pro bowl season with an overall lackluster preseason. At the end of the day, I anticipate that the O line will show that they were working out some kinks in the preseason and will return to last season form.
Other players to keep an eye on:
It's looking more and more like Kevin Williams will not start on Sunday, in which case rookie Shariff Floyd will get the start. While the Vikings seem to be confident that Floyd is NFL-ready, it was not anticipated Floyd would start this early in the season, if at all. It will be interesting to see if he can succeed as a starter early on and make his case to get more playing time than initially planned.
For Vikings' fans who have been paying attention this preseason, it should not come as a shock that Marvin Mitchell will get the start at outside linebacker on Sunday. Desmond Bishop was brought in to compete for that position, but he came in late and was battling injury during the offseason. What may come as a surprise are the statements from Leslie Frazier that seem to indicate that Bishop likely won't see any playing on Sunday. This certainly doesn't mean Bishop should already be considered a failed experiment, but when he was signed in late June this could not have been the result the Vikings anticipated.
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