Live Free Picks
Home Of 500 Handicappers
Where: Ford Field, Detroit, Michigan
The Detroit Lions should have quarterback Matthew Stafford under center when they host the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday. Stafford, who is coming off his only injury-free season, left last week’s 44-41 overtime loss at Tennessee in the fourth quarter with a strained leg muscle. Backup Shaun Hill performed admirably, but the Lions need their franchise quarterback healthy if they are to entertain thoughts of reaching the playoffs for the second straight season after an 11-year drought. The Vikings are coming off a 24-13 victory over NFC power San Francisco and will try to exploit a Lions’ defense which has allowed 94 points in three games. Detroit has won the last three meetings – all by seven points or less.
ABOUT THE VIKINGS (2-1): Second-year quarterback Christian Ponder is off to a fast start, completing 70.1 percent of his passes with four touchdowns and a 104.9 rating. He’ll have another weapon to throw to as speedster Jerome Simpson makes his season and Vikings’ debut Sunday. Simpson, who was suspended the first three games for violating the league’s substance abuse policy, will complement Percy Harvin, who leads the league with 27 receptions. Adrian Peterson appears to be picking up speed after ACL surgery on his left knee. He has 230 yards this season, including 86 on a season-high 25 carries last week. The defense has allowed only 59 points and has registered seven sacks.
ABOUT THE LIONS (1-2): Stafford practiced this week and appears healthy enough to play. The Vikings, though, will still have to prepare for a traditional pocket passer in Stafford and a mobile quarterback in Hill. Minnesota, though, knows which wide receiver is healthy and at the top of his game. Calvin Johnson has 24 catches for a league-leading 369 yards and a touchdown, and should be a force no matter who is throwing him the ball. Detroit RB Mikel LeShoure rushed for 100 yards and a score in his NFL debut last week. He missed the first two games for violating the league’s substance abuse policy and all of 2011 with an Achilles’ injury. Detroit hasn’t lost three straight since 2010.
1. Lions starting DT Corey Williams had knee surgery this week and will not play. Williams had a sack in each of Detroit’s first two games.
2. Vikings DE Jared Allen, who has an NFL-best 106 sacks since entering the league in 2004, had three sacks in each of the two meetings in 2011.
3. The Lions haven’t beaten the Vikings four straight times since 1961-63.