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5 Vikings-Lions Storylines: After High & Low Note, A Musical Twist

EAGAN, Minn. — Everyone in the NFC North is 1-1 entering Week 3 for the first time since 2014.

The record is the most common in the conference and NFL, with 11 NFC teams and 19 throughout the league splitting their first two contests.

That sets up an early pivotal game between Minnesota and Detroit at noon (CT) Sunday.

With an early high note and low note, I wanted to work in a bit of Detroit's impressive musical legacy (there's much more to it than will be covered below) in this week's storylines.

Here is a predicted key matchup, along with five storylines for this week.

Matchup to watch: Vikings defense vs. Lions offense

The Vikings defense looked great at home against the Packers and rough on the road against the Eagles.

The stats are still a small sample size, but Minnesota enters Week 3 ranked 29th in yards allowed (412.0), and Detroit's offense is ranked fourth with 405.0 yards per game.

Yards obviously don't matter as much as points.

The Vikings held the Packers to 7 at home but allowed 24 to the Eagles in the first half in Philadelphia.

The Lions have put up 35 points in a home loss to Philadelphia and 36 in a road win at Washington.

Was the success in Week 1 related to being at home? Having the right scheme for what the Packers wanted to do? Limited experience between Aaron Rodgers and his receivers? Everything going right for Minnesota in its home opener?

Were the struggles in Week 2 related to Philadelphia firing on all cylinders and knowing where to find spots in Minnesota's defense? The Vikings having to do a bunch of prep work on run-pass options and an incredibly mobile quarterback who can rush like a running back and doesn't mind doing so?

Lions QB Jared Goff is 41-of-71 passing (57.7 percent) on the season for 471 yards with six touchdowns against one interception and a passer rating of 100.1.

Amon-Ra St. Brown leads Detroit's receiving targets with 17 catches, 180 yards and three touchdowns.

D'Andre Swift (20 carries for 200 yards) and Jamaal Williams (23 for 81) have combined for three rushing scores.


1. R-E-S-P-E-C-T

It's only proper to start a music-themed storylines with the late "Queen of Soul."

Aretha Franklin's anthem of empowerment is applicable because both teams are trying to earn respect after missing the playoffs for multiple seasons.

The Vikings past two absences from the postseason are shorter than Detroit's streak of five years, but both want to elevate from where they've been.

There should be zero danger of this matchup being a "trap game" like the one last December that the Lions won at the buzzer for their first of three victories in 2021.

Look back at photos over the course of time featuring games between the Vikings and the Lions.

2. Will the real third-down defense please stand up?

Big jump to go straight from Aretha to Eminem, but Minnesota's third-down defense is an area to keep an eye on and could help determine the outcome.

The Vikings limited the Packers to 3-for-9 on third downs (and 0-for-2 on fourth downs, by the way) to force stops throughout Week 1.

Minnesota, however, allowed the Eagles to go 7-for-13 on third downs and didn't force Philadelphia into a fourth down.

A third-and-13 that the Eagles picked up with a 19-yard pass on their opening drive set the tone.

In the second quarter, Jalen Hurts rushed for a 26-yard touchdown on third-and-2.

Philadelphia also converted a third-and-6 with 28 seconds left in the first half with a 16-yard pass to set up a field goal.

To be fair, Minnesota's offense has room for improvement on the money down, as well.

The Vikings went 4-for-13 in Week 1 and 4-for-12 Monday for a combined 32-percent success rate on the season that ranks tied for 23rd in the NFL.

3. Ain't No Mountain High Enough

Except for the rookies, Monday's loss wasn't an NFL first for anyone in Minnesota's locker room.

At various points, everyone else has had the experience of dusting off a bad outing, going back to the film study and fixing mistakes.

Head Coach Kevin O'Connell seems to be an optimist in every situation we've seen so far. He's also a pragmatist and realist, but the optimism could help lift Minnesota's spirits as it tries to catch up in a short week.

That's the tie-in to "Ain't No Mountain High Enough."

Think I'm wrong?

"Baby" is referred to as the "goal" before the vow of "If you're ever in trouble, I'll be there on the double."

It worked in Remember the Titans. Why not for the first taste of adversity for the 2022 Vikings?

4. Running that Old Time Rock and Roll

Using this nod to Bob Seger and a nickname for the football to bring up the run game.

The Vikings didn't run the rock much on Monday.

Minnesota finished with 11 rush attempts for 62 yards, compared to 46 pass attempts by Cousins (and two pass plays that ended with sacks).

Part of that play distribution stemmed from falling behind by 17 points at halftime.

The Vikings wanted to establish the run much earlier in the game but were unable to pick up conversions early.

Minnesota gained 22 of its rushing yards on its lone touchdown drive in the second quarter and cut Philadelphia's lead to 14-7.

The biggest gain (17 yards) was a schemed sweep for Jalen Reagor out of an imbalanced offensive line formation.

Alexander Mattison also gained 5 on the ground during that drive, making a second-and-11 into a more manageable third-and-6.

Dalvin Cook was limited to 17 yards on six carries and 19 receiving yards on four catches.

Detroit has allowed 152 rushing yards per game and 5.07 per play so far this season, which rank 26th and 27th respectively in the NFL.

5. Will there be Dancing in the Street (end zone)?

Kicking it all the way back to Martha and the Vandellas to close it out.

Justin Jefferson's iteration of The Griddy is oft imitated but never duplicated (same in my book for "Dancing in the Street)."

The third-year pro hit the dance twice in Minnesota's opener.

His next score will be the 20th receiving touchdown of his career. If it happens in Sunday's game, it will be his 16th in 18 games at U.S. Bank Stadium and second against the Lions.

Counterpart Adam Thielen enters the contest with 49 receiving touchdowns. One more will tie him with Sammy White for fourth in Vikings history.

If it happens Sunday, it will be just his third against Detroit, and folks probably won't mind his "cover" of "The Griddy."