By: Pat Caputo
If the Lions are going to re-gain respectability after a horrible 4-12 year in 2012 that ended with eight straight losses, it must begin by beating the Minnesota Vikings in the season opener Sunday at Ford Field.
Last season, when the Vikings beat the Lions twice, it set the tone for both teams. The Vikings, picked to finish last in the NFC North by most preseason forecasters, went 10-6 and surprisingly made the playoffs. What will it take for the Lions to turn the tables on the Vikings in Sunday’s season opener? Here are three factors.
1. The Lions were notorious for slow starts last season. Even in their four wins, three of them involved dramatic comebacks. Falling behind the Vikings is particularly dangerous because Adrian Peterson is the best running back in the NFL and capable of controlling the clock. The idea for the Lions is to get ahead in this game and force the Vikings to try to beat them with QB Christian Ponder throwing the ball.
2. The Lions’ defensive line, the most talented unit on the team, must impose its will by putting a lot of pressure on Ponder.
3. Running back Reggie Bush must have a big game to take heat off Lions’ quarterback Matthew Stafford and All-Pro wide receiver Calvin Johnson.