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Vikings Opponent Profile: Minnesota Looks For Revenge And Division Lead Against Detroit

By Vikings – WCCO | CBS Minnesota

By Joe Gunther

The Minnesota Vikings blew a late lead at home and lost in overtime to the Detroit Lions in their first meeting in Week 9. Their season series concludes this week on Thanksgiving at Ford Field.

In their last matchup, the Lions needed two plays to get into field goal range in the final seconds to tie the game against Minnesota and then marched down the field for the game-winning drive in overtime.

Both teams won in Week 10, keeping them tied atop the NFC North standings: The Vikings defeated the Arizona Cardinals at home and the Lions defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars at Ford Field.

Lions Season Record: 6-4

Detroit enters the game with a 6-4 record, including a 4-1 mark at home. They lost to the Tennessee Titans in their home opener in Week 2, but have beaten the Philadelphia Eagles, St. Louis Rams, Washington Redskins and Jacksonville Jaguars at home. Away from Ford Field, they are 2-3 with wins over the Indianapolis Colts and Vikings, and losses to the Green Bay Packers, Chicago Bears and Houston Texans.

Lions Offense

The Lions offense still revolves around quarterback Matthew Stafford, who has a good rapport with all of his receivers. He spreads the ball around well with five different receivers having at least 35 catches on the season.

Marvin Jones leads the team in receiving yards, but has found things more difficult over the last few weeks, having topped 75 yards just once since Week 3. In the first three games of the season, Jones had 85, 118 and 205 yards, respectively, but his breakout performances against the Colts, Titans and Packers have drawn more coverage on him. His recent performances may be proving he is not a No. 1 receiver and better suited for a No. 2 or complementary role.

The team’s leading receiver, Golden Tate, has seen his performance increase in recent weeks. He is a slot receiver that works best catching the short and intermediate passes and getting extra yards after the catch.

The Lions are 16th in the league in passing offense, but only the New York Giants and Vikings are worse at running the ball. Detroit averages just 9.5 more yards per game than the Vikings. Theo Riddick, the Lions’ leading rusher, has 310 yards on the season—that’s just a 38.8 yards per game. He also has just 3.9 yards per carry.

Lions Defense

The Lions run a 4-3 base defense that allows 358.2 yards per game, which is 19th in the league. They are in the middle of the pack in both passing and rushing yards allowed per game, 18th in rushing (104.6) and 17th in passing (253.6). The unit has been opportunistic in wins this season, most notably with interceptions by Darius Slay against the Eagles and Rafael Bush against the Jaguars.

Lions Players to Watch

The Vikings struggled to stop two receivers for the Lions in their Week 9 matchup. Tate caught 11 of 12 targets for 79 yards and the game-winning touchdown in overtime. Tight end Eric Ebron caught seven of eight passes for 92 yards. The duo combined for 18 of Stafford’s 23 completions and 171 of his 219 yards.

On defense, Kerry Hyder had the only two sacks on Sam Bradford in Week 9, and has emerged as a legitimate pass rusher this season. He has the versatility to play inside or out, but makes his biggest impact as an interior pass rusher.

Outlook

This game will likely decide the winner of the division. If the Vikings win, they take a one-game lead and even the head-to-head tiebreaker. The next tiebreaker is a record in divisional games, which the Vikings would lead with a 2-2 mark while the Lions would drop to 1-3, but there still would be two games left within the division for both teams. If the Lions win, they take the one-game lead and own the head-to-head tiebreaker. The Vikings would have to be two games better than the Lions with five to play.

Source:: CBS Minnesota

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