Detroit Lions vs. Minnesota Vikings: Watch Live Stream Online for Free; Preview
Matthew Stafford and the Detroit Lions face the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday. (Photo: REUTERS / Rebecca Cook)
Two NFC North rivals go head-to-head on Sunday afternoon as the Detroit Lions host the Minnesota Vikings. The game will be broadcast live at 1 p.m. ET on FOX in certain markets, and you can also watch a live stream online for free here.
The Lions are coming off a heartbreaking loss to the Tennessee Titans last Sunday. Detroit trailed by 14 points before backup quarterback Shaun Hill threw a touchdown pass to Calvin Johnson with 18 seconds left in the game. The Lions then recovered the ensuing onside kick and tied the game on a last-second Hail Mary touchdown pass.
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But in overtime, the Lions allowed a Titans field goal and then failed on a fourth-and-one conversion from deep in Tennessee territory. After the game, coach Jim Schwartz told reporters that he was just trying to draw the Titans offsides on that fourth down play, but the center accidentally snapped the ball instead.
Hill was playing because starter Matthew Stafford left the Titans contest with a hip injury. He is expected to return for Sunday's matchup and leads an offense that is first in the league in passing yards per game.
However, Detroit is not as strong in its running game, ranking just 14th in the league in rushing yardage over the first three weeks. After Kevin Smith averaged just 3.3 yards per carry against the San Francisco 49ers, the Lions turned to second-year man Mikel Leshoure last week. Leshoure missed his entire rookie season with an injury and was then suspended for the first two games of 2012. But he made the most of his opportunity last week, rushing 26 times for 100 yards and a touchdown. Leshoure is questionable for this weekend's game with a groin injury.
Minnesota, meanwhile, is coming off a shocking upset of the previously-undefeated San Francisco 49ers. The Vikings held the 49ers to just 280 total yards and forced three fourth-quarter turnovers.
Running back Adrian Peterson looks fully recovered from the major knee injury he suffered late last season. The former All-Pro is averaging four yards per carry and already has two touchdowns this season.
Second-year quarterback Christian Ponder has also impressed. The 2011 first round draft pick is completing over 70 percent of his passes and is fifth in the league in passer rating.
Minnesota ranks in the top half of the league in both passing and rushing defense, but the Vikings have not yet faced an offense as talented and explosive as Detroit's. Over the first two weeks of the season, Minnesota faced a pair of young quarterbacks in Jacksonville's Blaine Gabbert and Indianapolis' Andrew Luck. Last week, they faced a 49ers team known primarily for its rushing and defense, not for its strong passing game.
While the Vikings proved last Sunday that they can compete with one of the top teams in the NFL, this week's contest against the high-flying Lions will present a different challenge. The return of suspended wideout Jerome Simpson should help, but the Vikings' best bet is to use Peterson to limit Detroit's offensive possessions.
If the Vikings can beat one of the best offensive teams in the league the week after defeating one of the top defensive squads, they may set themselves up as playoff contenders.