One team will get back on track and even their record at 1-1 while the other will fall to 0-2 on the young season. Yes, it's an early matchup, but it's an important NFC North matchup on Sunday as the Vikings host the Detroit Lions.
Here are five of the biggest storylines we'll be chasing in the build-up to Week 2...
1. Run defenseImproving the run defense was a big priority for the Vikings this past offseason. After one game of regular season action, the Vikings run defense remains a big talker. The San Francisco 49ers used "13" (1 RB, 3 TE) and "22" personnel for much of the game and were able to run the ball well and consistently, churning out a per-carry average of 5.9 yards with Carlos Hyde leading the way with 168 yards and 2 TDs on 26 carries. While the Lions may not be able to run the same personnel groupings as often, they can still test the Vikings run defense and it won't be surprising if they do so early, especially playing on the road against what can be a disruptive Vikings pass rush.
2. Teddy looks to get back on trackQB Teddy Bridgewater's worst game in 2014, as measured by passer rating, was at home against the Lions when he was intercepted three times, was sacked eight times and lost a fumble. The hope this year is that Bridgewater's worst game of 2015 will be the game before the home game against the Lions. Bridgewater had a passer rating of 79.0 last week in San Francisco and Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer said it was the first time he's seen his young QB look out of sorts. As unusual as it was to see Bridgewater and the offense perform in that way, Zimmer seems even more confident that his young QB can bounce back against a very good Lions defense and one that had Bridgewater's number a season ago (1-5 TD-INT ration 12 sacks).
3. Peterson stumbled at the start, but is ready to pick up steamIt was not the return to action anyone in Minnesota envisioned for Adrian Peterson – 31 yards and no TDs on just 10 carries. But there is plenty of reason for optimism that Peterson and the Vikings running game can kick it into high gear on Sunday. Peterson averages 115.5 rushing yards per game and has scored 12 TDs in Weeks 1-3 of the season since 2010. Also, the 2012 MVP has a tradition of success against Detroit, with 1,454 rushing yards, a 5.4-yard per-carry average, and 12 TDs against the Lions in 12 games. Detroit won't just rollover, of course. The Lions have a stout defensive front and they'll be studying the Vikings tape from last week in San Francisco to pick up tips on what ailed the Vikings rushing strategy in Week 1.
4. Vikings secondary faces first big testThe 49ers took it to the Vikings defense on the ground last week, and their success doing so resulted in QB Colin Kaepernick throwing just 26 passes. While Detroit would certainly like to run the ball as often and as well, they are also quite good at attacking through the air. QB Matthew Stafford threw it 30 times last week, averages 40.1 passing attempts per game for his career and has a career TD-INT ration of 14-4 vs. the Vikings. Throw in the presence of WRs Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate along with young TE Eric Ebron and some dynamic RBs, and the much-improved Vikings secondary is set to face its first big test of 2015.
5. Barr is back and looking goodThere wasn't a lot of good to take away from the Vikings season-opening loss in San Francisco, but one player who stood out on the positive end was LB Anthony Barr. He hadn't played in a regular season game since Week 12 of last year, but the casual observer wouldn't have known that by watching him move around the field in San Francisco. Barr led the team in tackles with a career-high 12, one of them for a loss, and he also had a pass breakup. Barr's ability to play the run, rush the passer and drop into coverage makes him a valuable part of Zimmer's defense and it's to forget because he missed the final four games but he was in the running for Defensive Rookie of the Year honors before an injury shortened his 2014 season. In order to slow down the Lions high-octane offense, the Vikings will need Barr to be on his game.