Here are five Vikings-Lions storylines we'll be chasing this week in the buildup to Week 7...
1. NFC North teams look to build off winsBoth the Vikings and Lions enter Week 7 looking to build off of wins last week. A win will help the Vikings keep pace with division-leading Green Bay, who is off this week. A win for Detroit would give them a second consecutive against a division opponent and move them to 2-5 as they try to dig out of a deep early-season hole. With only five NFC teams boasting winning records at this point in the season, no race is decided and no team should be counted out.
2. Vikings look to restart the running gameThe Vikings have the NFL's sixth-ranked rushing offense (126.0 yards per game), but the rushing attack was held in check last week versus Kansas City. Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer cited run blocking during his post-game press conference as an area he'd like to see improved this week. Adrian Peterson, who rushed for 134 yards on 29 carries against Detroit in Week 2, was held to 60 yards on 26 carries against a Chiefs defense that used a bevy of stunts and run blitzes to slow him down. Playing on the road against a division opponent looking to avenge and early-season defeat, it would behoove the Vikings to get the ground game going against to help keep the defense off-balance. Peterson has played 13 career games against Detroit, averaging 126.1 rushing yards per contest with 12 rushing TDs.
3. Putting the pass rush on repeatLions QB Matthew Stafford was sacked just one time in the previous meeting between these two teams. But make no mistake – he was pummeled by a Vikings pass rush that chased him and knocked him down relentlessly. Stafford had 50 dropbacks last week versus Chicago, completing 27 of 42 attempts, rushing six times and getting sacked twice. If the Vikings pass rush gets nearly that many pass-rush opportunities, they will look to make the Lions prolific passer as uncomfortable at home as he was on the road in Week 2.
*4. What's the (injury) report? *Although Zimmer and Lions Head Coach Jim Caldwell won't appreciate it, there will be a lot of injury-related inquiries this week in the buildup to Sunday's game. Last week against the Bears, the Lions were without RB Joique Bell, TE Eric Ebron, S James Ihedigbo, LB DeAndre Levy, DT Haloti Ngata and TE Brandon Pettigrew, plus they've recently lost DT Tyrunn Walker and this week placed RB Zach Zenner on the Reserve/Injured list. The Vikings were without DE Everson Griffen and WR Charles Johnson on Sunday, and they placed DT Shamar Stephen on the Reserve/Injured list this week, as well.
5. These WRs are catching onSunday's matchup will feature two of the hottest WRs in the League. Calvin Johnson is third in the NFL over the past three weeks with 289 receiving yards on 18 catches with 1 TD. Stefon Diggs made his NFL debut in Week 4 and got his first start in Week 6, compiling 13 receptions for 216 yards on 19 targets in those two games. You can be sure Stafford and Teddy Bridgewater will continue to go with the hot hand and you can be equally as sure that both defenses will be looking to reverse the recent trends for both players.* *