Matt Shepard previews the Lions-Vikings matchup


We use that word to describe teams that are in dire need of turning things around in a season or game.  It could also be used for teams that are trying to keep any type of momentum going. 

Such is the case in both instances on Sunday in Minnesota, making me wonder who will play more desperately. The Vikings have dropped three of four and could use all the tie-breakers they can get. 

They have already beaten Detroit once and another would be a huge edge if there is a playoff tug-of-war at the end of the year.  They also need to find some of that early season karma that allowed them to start 4-1, and had their quarterback playing at a relatively high level. 

Since, Christian Ponder has been terrible. He has been held to under 65-yards passing in two of his last three games and his team has relied solely on the running game of Adrian Peterson. Not that it's a bad thing. 

Peterson leads the league in rushing and his story is as uplifting as any in the league this year. Peterson suffered a career-threatening knee injury last year and he's responded with a Pro Bowl effort.

Lions head coach Jim Schwartz told me this week, "he looks better than he did before the injury."

Peterson is the Vikings all-time leader in rushing yards as he's recorded four 100-yard rushing games, and six rushing touchdowns this season. Peterson is the reason Minnesota has led the league over the last six years in yards (12, 459), yards per game (140), and average yards per carry (4.7). 

But with the Vikings most explosive and well-rounded weapon, Percy Harvin, missing practice this week, Detroit can key on Peterson more than ever before. The Lions might feel a little of that desperation because they have things rolling now and yet they sit at 4-4 and 0-2 in the division. 

There is not much more room for inter-division error. There is a confidence in that locker room now that wasn't as evident earlier this year. There are a number of reasons for that: they are not turning the ball over, Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford is playing like he did a year ago and there are a number of players forced to play bigger roles and thriving in those roles. 

Guys like Ryan Broyles, Jonte Green, Riley Reiff, and Ricardo Silva have all been asked to do more than what was originally expected and they have responded, thus the Lions have as well. 

Sunday's game should be no different.

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