Lions vs. Vikings: What to watch for in the 2020 season finale

Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /
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Kerryon Johnson, Detroit Lions
Kerryon Johnson, Detroit Lions (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images) /

The chance for another divisional win

The Lions are a listless 1-10 in NFC North contests over the last two seasons. The 6-9 Vikings, finishing up a monstrously disappointing season of their own, present a chance to finish the season with an all-too-rare win over a division rival and an opportunity to begin the new year with at least one small piece of positive momentum to build on.

This is going to be a long offseason of soul searching for a franchise that has sunk right back to the bad old days in just three years. No matter the result of the head coach/GM search, Kenny Golladay’s contract, the upcoming draft, or Matthew Stafford’s status, the outlook for the 2021 season doesn’t initially look very promising either. As fans, we need something to feel good about it with the Lions.

For me, a win to close the season does a lot more to boost optimism and plant the seeds for a rebuild than a second consecutive embarrassingly high pick in the draft (Trevor Lawrence ain’t coming to Motown, just to make that clear).

The logjam for draft positioning

Then again, there are plenty of fans out there who swear by the tanking method (forget about the massive pile of evidence proving over and over that losing just breeds more losing in the NFL). If you fall into that category, you might be paying close attention to the Lions result for a much different reason.

There are so many teams in the four to six win range leading up to Week 17 that it’s hardly worth trying to lay out all the different scenarios regarding which pick the Lions will end up with when the dust clears on Sunday. The Jaguars and Jets are already locked into the number one and two picks, but from there we have quite a bit happening.

If the season ended today, the Lions would own the seventh pick in April’s draft. A loss to Minnesota could theoretically bring them all the way up third depending on other results, and a win could drop them down as low as number thirteen in the picking order.