The Detroit Lions and Minnesota Viking both came up empty in their season openers on the West Coast. The NFC North rivals meet on Sunday at TCF Bank Stadium seeking to bounce back from subpar efforts.
Matthew Stafford and Co. raced out to a 21-3 lead over San Diego with Detroit looking poised to start the season with a road victory for the first time since 2011 and their fifth overall Week 1 win. But the seventh-year quarterback tossed two consecutive interceptions and the Lions would punt on their next two series before falling, 33-28.
The Vikings offense couldn’t even break into the end zone against San Francisco, even with running back Adrian Peterson returning to the NFL after a one-year layoff. The 30-year-old tallied 31 yards off 10 carries, but with the 49ers pass rush cruising past the line, and Minnesota down by 10 at the end of the third quarter, his attempts were limited.
Second-year quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who was sacked five times, led only one successful scoring drive against the 49ers and Minnesota labored to a 20-3 loss. After completing 23-for-32 passes for 231 yards and an interception, Bridgewater now faces a Detroit secondary that folded against the Chargers but also picked him off five times in two games last season, more than any other team.
Bridgewater did, however, connect well with new receiver Mike Wallace and healthy tight end Kyle Rudolph on Sunday. Wallace caught six of his seven targets for 63 yards and Rudolph five of seven for 53 yards after missing seven games last season.
As for Peterson, there might not be a better opponent for him to get back on track. In 12 career games, he torched Detroit for 1,258 yards and 11 touchdowns with 5.35 yards per carry, second only to his work against rival Green Bay and any other defense he’s faced at least five times. It’s telling that with Peterson out last year the Lions swept last year’s season-series with Minnesota, though the offense didn’t exactly hum at 16.5 points between the two contests.
Detroit’s offense received several encouraging signs from two budding young players against San Diego. Rookie running back Ameer Abdullah picked up 50 yards and a touchdown off only seven carries, and would have likely rushed for more had Detroit not allowed the lead to slip away. He also helped in the passing game with four receptions for 40 yards, while second-year tight end Eric Ebron led the team with 53 yards receiving and a touchdown.
Ebron especially made up for the lack of production by receivers Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate, who combined for a mere 63 yards and six catches.
Betting Odds: Minnesota -2.5
Over/Under: 43 points
Prediction: Detroit over Minnesota, 24-17