The Detroit Lions and the rest of the NFL get their first look at reigning MVP Adrian Peterson and the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday afternoon at Ford Field in Week One of the new NFL season.
Peterson nearly toppled the two decade old mark of most rushing yards in a season last year, while singlehandedly carrying the Vikings to the playoffs, and for sake of preservation, Minnesota head coach Leslie Frazier held his start out of the entire preseason.
Unlike Peterson, Lions All-Pro wide out Calvin Johnson broke the single-season receiving yards record with 1,964 yards off 122 catches. But Detroit failed to build off their breakout 2011 season and fell to the bottom of the NFC North once again.
Detroit was 27th in points allowed per game, and their running game severely lacked any kind of punch. Enter Reggie Bush via free agency, who could be the perfect complement to Johnson and quarterback Matthew Stafford.
Stafford’s touchdown passes were nearly halved from 41 in 2011 to 20 in 2012, but he still threw for 4,967 yards, almost repeating his 5,000-yard season.
Lions head coach Jim Schwartz and his staff are expecting major improvements along the defensive line, specifically from punishing tackles Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley. Same goes for rookie right corner Darius Slay, who was taken in the second round out of Mississippi State.
For Minnesota, they expect quarterback Christian Ponder to provide some back-up for Peterson. Last year Ponder upped his completion percentage to 62.1, and his yards to 2,935, but still struggled with 12 interceptions. The Vikings went out and stole receiver Greg Jennings from division rival Green Bay, and drafted Cordarrelle Patterson out of Tennessee to give Ponder some new targets.
The game begins at 1 p.m. ET and will be broadcast by FOX or watch a live online stream by purchasing NFL Game Access here.
Betting Odds: Detroit is favored by 5.5 points.
Over/Under: 46.5 points.
Prediction: Detroit 34, Minnesota 24