Detroit Lions vs. Minnesota Vikings: Week 17 game preview

The Detroit Lions’ season is set to come to an end against the Vikings on Sunday

The Detroit Lions have reached their final game of the season where yet again, they won’t be in the playoffs or at least competing for a spot in the last week.

In the final game preview of the season, as usual, it will cover the matchup history between the Lions and Minnesota Vikings, what occurred last matchup, what to watch for, what needs to happen for a Detroit victory and a prediction.

Matchup history

As these two teams are in the same division, they play each other quite often. The Lions and Vikings have faced off a total of 118 times with Minnesota holding an advantage with a 77-39-2 record. It’s been six straight victories for the Vikings when they’ve faced the Lions dating back to 2017.

Last matchup

In the NFL, each team plays their division rivals twice a year. This will be the second Lions/Vikings matchup of the 2020 season as the first one happened in Week 9. The Vikings took the first game with a 34-20 score.

Quarterback Matthew Stafford completed 71.9% of his passes completing 23 of 32 throws for 211 yards, a touchdown but with two interceptions. Quarterback Chase Daniel also saw some action throwing for 94 yards on eight successful throws of 13 tries with a touchdown and interception.

Wide receiver Danny Amendola caught seven passes for 77 yards. Touchdowns were caught by wide receiver Marvin Jones Jr and tight end T.J. Hockenson. Running backs D’Andre Swift and Kerryon Johnson combined for 69 reception yards.

Two Lions defensive players combined for eight tackles each which were linebacker Jamie Collins Sr (four assisted, four solo) and safety Jayron Kearse (three solo, five assisted) who was recently released.

Quarterback Kirk Cousins only threw the ball 20 times in which he successfully found a receiver on 13 of those attempts for 220 yards and three touchdowns.

Running back Dalvin Cook absolutely tormented the Lions defense rushing for 206 yards on 22 carries with two touchdowns. Running back Alexander Mattison rushed for 69 yards on 12 attempts.

Wide receiver Justin Jefferson caught three passes for 64 yards whereas Cook got two receptions for 46 yards. Wide receiver Adam Thielen was limited to only two catches although for 38 yards which comes to an average of 19 yards a catch.

Former Lions running back Ameer Abdullah caught a 22 yard pass for a touchdown. Tight end Irv Smith Jr caught only two passes for 10 yards although both catches were in the end zone.

Three defensive players on the Vikings recorded double digit tackles. Linebacker Eric Wilson got 13 (eight solo), cornerback Kris Boyd got 10 (eight solo) and safety Harrison Smith also got 10 (seven solo). Wilson and Smith both got interceptions while the latter recorded half a sack.

What to watch for

Will Cook tear up the Lions defense like he did last game? The Lions run defense has gotten better with the addition of defensive end Everson Griffen who wasn’t on the roster in Week 9 although it still isn’t great.

Will Stafford play or will they hand things over to Daniel? Stafford was injured heading into last week’s game and got hurt on the opening drive in which he didn’t return. As Daniel didn’t play well when he came in, is it possible the Lions may allow quarterback David Blough start or at least play?

While the Lions limited Jefferson and Thielen to 83 yards last matchup, they typically get a lot more each game. How will the Lions secondary work on slowing down the dynamic wide receiver duo?

Keys to the game/What the Lions need to do to win

They will have to limit the usage and effectiveness of both Thielen and Jefferson. The Lions also need to keep an eye on Smith Jr as he’s been much better since they last saw him. They also can not have Cook replicate anything close to the stats he put up last game.

Stafford will also have to play because as we learned last game, without the franchise quarterback at helm the whole team goes down.

Prediction

While Cook won’t be as good as he was in Week 9, Jefferson and Thielen will be much better. It wouldn’t be smart to start Stafford in which they will let Daniel control the game and while he’ll be a bit better than last week, he won’t be much of a factor. At least the end of the game could result in the Lions getting a top five pick.

Final score: Vikings 29 Lions 13