1:00 PM ET, September 25, 2011
Mall of America Field, Minneapolis, MN
The division foes are again heading in opposite directions, but the roles are reversed.
The Lions will try to improve to 3-0 for the first time since 1980 by snapping a lengthy road losing streak to the Vikings, who will attempt to avoid their first 0-3 start in nine years.
Detroit became the first NFL team to go winless during a 16-game season in 2008, then tied the second-longest losing streak in league history in 2009 with a Week 2 loss to Minnesota before ending that 19-game slide the following Sunday.
This year, the Lions (2-0) enter Week 3 as one of only seven unbeaten teams in the NFL and riding a six-game winning streak dating back to last season. Detroit, which hasn't reached the playoffs in 12 years, defeated Kansas City 48-3 last Sunday for the most lopsided regular-season win in team history.
"It's a good start," said Matthew Stafford, who threw for 294 yards and four touchdowns. "That's the way we look at it. We've got to keep it going, though. It's a 16-game season."
The Vikings (0-2), meanwhile, are among seven winless teams, just two years removed from opening 6-0 and winning a second straight division crown.
"I think it's now the time for everyone to really challenge themselves and find out what they are doing individually wrong and get it corrected so that we won't have these problems later in the season," said quarterback Donovan McNabb, whose 71.3 passer rating is 30th in the NFL.
Stafford ranks fourth in that category at 112.0, with four of his seven touchdown passes going to Calvin Johnson.
That duo has a chance to lift the Lions to their best start since winning their first four games 31 years ago.
"We have a hard-working group of players that understand that it's not about what you've done in the past, it's what you do in the future," coach Jim Schwartz said. "... Nobody's trying to rain on any parades or anything else, but it's two games."
Detroit has lost its last 13 trips to Minnesota dating to Dec. 14, 1997. The Lions have dropped 22 of 26 overall versus the Vikings but ended a six-game losing streak in the series in the last matchup, winning 20-13 on Jan. 2 as they held Adrian Peterson to 31 yards rushing.
Peterson ran for 160 and two TDs in a 24-10 home win over Detroit last season, a game which the Vikings also entered looking to avoid their first 0-3 start since dropping four in a row to begin 2002.
They're in that position again after blowing double-digit leads in the second half of their first two games.
Peterson's 9-yard TD run just before halftime put Tampa Bay in a 17-0 hole last Sunday, but Minnesota gave up two touchdowns in the game's final seven minutes -- the last with 31 seconds left -- and lost 24-20.
"When you play as well as we were playing, to have the tide turn as quickly and dramatically as it did, that's frustrating," coach Leslie Frazier said. "We've got to come back (this week) and figure out what the problem is and get it fixed in a hurry."
Another bad second half cost Frazier's team in the season opener at San Diego, where the Vikings led 17-7 at the break but fell 24-17.
Minnesota might get some help with defensive lineman Kevin Williams expected to return from his suspension for testing positive for a banned diuretic in 2008. The six-time Pro Bowler, though, is dealing with plantar fasciitis in his left foot and had one sack in 2010 after recording a combined 14 1/2 over the previous two campaigns.
The Vikings also are dealing with a potential off-the-field distraction. Safety Tyrell Johnson was arrested on suspicion of driving while impaired early Tuesday morning.
Police say Johnson's blood alcohol content was 0.12 percent, well over Minnesota's legal limit of 0.08 percent.
"I'm very blessed and fortunate that no one got hurt because of my mistake and selfishness," he said Wednesday.
Frazier said Johnson will be in uniform against Detroit, and that any discipline would be handled internally.
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Lions at Vikings: 10 observations
After breaking down film of both teams, Scouts Inc. offers 10 things to watch in this week's Lions-Vikings matchup.
1. Detroit needs to throw to set up the run: The Lions have been explosive offensively through the air (averaging 313 yards with seven touchdowns) and the Vikings have been poor defending the pass thus far. Look for offensive coordinator Scott Linehan to throw on early downs to loosen up Minnesota's solid run defense.
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|Avg Points Allowed||15.3||24.7|
Team Averages & NFL Ranks
|TEAM OFFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|TEAM DEFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|Pass Yds Allowed||DET|
|Rush Yds Allowed||DET|
Head to Head Matchups (Since 2001)
|Minnesota leads 17-5|
|Jan 2, 2011||DET 20, MIN 13|
|Sep 26, 2010||DET 10, @MIN 24|
|Nov 15, 2009||DET 10, @MIN 27|
|Sep 20, 2009||DET 13, MIN 27|
|Dec 7, 2008||DET 16, MIN 20|
|Oct 12, 2008||DET 10, @MIN 12|
|Dec 2, 2007||DET 10, @MIN 42|
|Sep 16, 2007||DET 20, MIN 17|
|Dec 10, 2006||DET 20, MIN 30|
|Oct 8, 2006||DET 17, @MIN 26|
|Dec 4, 2005||DET 16, MIN 21|
|Nov 6, 2005||DET 14, @MIN 27|
|Dec 19, 2004||DET 27, MIN 28|
|Nov 21, 2004||DET 19, @MIN 22|
|Nov 23, 2003||DET 14, @MIN 24|
|Sep 21, 2003||DET 13, MIN 23|
|Dec 29, 2002||DET 36, MIN 38|
|Oct 13, 2002||DET 24, @MIN 31|
|Dec 16, 2001||DET 27, MIN 24|
|Oct 14, 2001||DET 26, @MIN 31|