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NFL Week 17: Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions prediction, preview, team news and more

Minnesota Vikings RB Alexander Mattison Has a Golden Opportunity To Have a Big Game Against The Detroit Lions
Minnesota Vikings RB Alexander Mattison Has a Golden Opportunity To Have a Big Game Against The Detroit Lions
ANALYST
Modified 02 Jan 2021, 22:55 IST
Preview
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The Minnesota Vikings and Detroit Lions will end their respective seasons against one another, each facing questions about how they will retool their franchises over the offseason. The two teams already played once this season, with Minnesota soundly defeating Detroit 34-20 in November last year.

The Vikings (6-9) have had an uncharacteristically bad defense in the 2020 season, highlighted by their 52-33 loss on Christmas Day to the New Orleans Saints.

Despite giving up six touchdowns to Alvin Kamara and a plethora of other big plays, the Vikings defense was still able to force Saints QB Drew Brees into a couple of turnovers, including an interception by LB Hardy Nickerson early in the second half. 

The Lions (5-10) did not have a great time of it in Week 16 either, getting walloped by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 47-7 at home. It has not been an easy season for Detroit, but one of their building blocks for 2021 will be former Georgia RB D’Andre Swift, who has rushed for 467 yards so far this season.

Head to Head

The Minnesota Vikings and Detroit Lions have played 118 times, and the Vikings have a commanding lead in the all-time series. Minnesota has a 77-39-2 advantage over their NFC North opponents, and will look to add to that again this Sunday.

Team News

The Minnesota Vikings will be without their best offensive player on Sunday, as RB Dalvin Cook has left the team to be with his family after the unfortunate death of his father. Additionally, LB Erick Kendricks has a calf injury, and will not be able to play against the Lions either.

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The Detroit Lions have dealt with key injuries for the better part of the last month, and Sunday’s game will be no exception. WR Kenny Golladay has already been ruled out of the game due to a lingering hip injury, and QB Matthew Stafford is dealing with an assortment of ailments to his thumb, ribs and ankle.

Stafford’s status for the Vikings game has not yet been finalized, but if he can’t go, Detroit will turn to either Chase Daniel or David Blough under center.

Projected Starters

Minnesota Vikings

QB: Kirk Cousins

RB: Alexander Mattison

WR: Adam Theilen, Justin Jefferson

TE: Kyle Rudolph(Q), Irv Smith Jr.

Detroit Lions

QB: Matthew Stafford(Q), Chase Daniel

RB: D’Andre Swift

WR: Danny Amendola, Mohammed Sanu, Quintez Cephus

TE: T.J. Hockenson

Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions Prediction

With a couple of standout offensive standouts missing (Golladay, Cook, possibly Stafford), expect this game to be played conservatively by each coaching staff. Detroit’s coaches may not be with the team past Sunday anyway, so their game plan might be a bit uneven as injuries and turmoil continue to mount.

Prediction: Despite the loss of Dalvin Cook, the Vikings feature one of the game’s best reserve runners in Alexander Mattison. This could be the perfect time for him to put up a big rushing line against a Lions team who got manhandled last week by the Bucs. It’s possible that WR Justin Jefferson and Adam Theilen could get into the mix as well to punctuate both of their strong campaigns.

Vikings 27, Lions 10.

Published 02 Jan 2021, 22:55 IST
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