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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Week 1 Preview: Vikings at Detroit Lions

After months and months of anticipation, the 2013 NFL season is here! The preseason this year left a lot of Vikings fans uneasy, but rightfully so — the Vikings first-team offense looked mediocre at best, and consistently inconsistent most of the time. But then again, what does preseason mean, really? If you’ll recall, the 2008 Detroit Lions dominated the preseason by going 4-0 before posting an NFL-worst 0-16 record in the regular season. And so the debate rages on: is it better to relinquish success in the presason by being vanilla, or does it behoove a team to get practive reps in against legit competition? That question might never be answered, but never the less, we’re definitely ready for games to count. Let’s take a look at a few key things we’ll be watching for in today’s game.

Christian Ponder
Fairly or unfairly, we’re not sure there was any single Viking that was more criticized during the preseason than starting quarterback Christian Ponder. From the controversial 2 snap appearance in the first preseason game to the mediocre performance that we saw in the 3rd preseason game against the 49ers, inconsistency was the word that was probably used most to describe Ponder’s performance. The Vikings coaching staff has suggested that they’ve seen a lot in practice to convince them that the first team offense should be fine in today’s game, but fans are still understandably skeptical. Most could admit that Ponder was lacking in the way of receiving targets last year, but even after acquiring Greg Jennings and Cordarelle Patterson this offseason, his job didn’t seem to be any easier this preason. Of course, he didn’t have Adrian Peterson in the backfield for most of the preseason(sans two inconspicuous play-action passing plays), but they still struggled against a 2nd team 49ers defense. A first team offense probably shouldn’t ever struggle against a second team defense as much as the Vikings did. How will CP bounce back this week against the Lions? We can’t wait to find out.

Adrian. Peterson.
The Vikings made the playoffs last year, but we think that nearly every fan will remember 2012 for Adrian Peterson.  AD fell short of Eric Dickerson’s season rushing record by only 9 yards, racking up 2,097 on the season. It’s been well documented this offseason that, historically, running backs have had a hard time following up on their two-thousand yard seasons(to say the least). Barry Sanders has had the best follow-up season, and he totaled(only?) 1,491 yards. Nearly 1,500 yards by a running back is hardly anything to be ashamed about — only 79 running backs have ever accomplished that in a single season in NFL history. Last year Adrian didn’t carry the ball a single time in the preseason and he turned out just fine. This year, he didn’t either. As stated above, he was on the field for a measley two plays and simply played the role of a decoy. Theoretically, with more threats in the passing game, teams shouldn’t be able to load the box quite as much this year. Today’s game against the Lions will be the first chance we’ll get to see if that theory holds true.

Vikings Secondary/Chris Cook vs. Calvin Johnson
The season opener in Detroit features two season leaders in terms of yardage gained. Adrian Peterson, of course, but also Calvin Johnson who broke Jerry Rice’s NFL receiving yards record with 1,964 yards. Last year the Vikings secondary(mainly Chris Cook) held Calvin to one of his worst games of the year(54 yards), but also allowed one of his best games of the year(207 yards). Matthew Stafford will be looking for Calvin all day, and Vikings secondary will have their hands full. We’ll be on the lookout to see if they can limit the Lions passing game. If they can, that will go a long way towards having a successful outcome.

Today’s game against the Lions kicks off from Ford Field here in Detroit at noon on the FAN. Paul Allen and Pete Bercich will handle the call on 100.3FM here in the Twin Cities and across the Vikings Radio Network.

Check out the graphic to the left. It was created by “K I L L E R C H E F”, a regular in Purple Chat. Check out the other submissions in this week’s competition on Purple Chat. Have a fresh idea for next week’s game? Pay attention to Purple Chat for next week’s Gameday Graphic thread. Did we miss out on a major plot line for today’s game? Tell us below or on Purple Chat.

Make sure you’re following The FAN on Twitter for the latest news and notes, and follow our guy AJ on Twitter for the latest on the Vikings and more.

This article was written by jab. You can normally find him meandering around Rube

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