There'll be plenty of players missing an inconsequential finale for the Vikings at Ford Field — including Dalvin Cook and Eric Kendricks — but Kirk Cousins has thrived in his home state in the past, and he'll be in line to set up Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson for big days against the Lions' defense.
THREE STORY LINES
Wrapping it up as the NFC North undercard
The Vikings have locked up third place in the division, with the Lions set to finish last. Mike Zimmer said Friday he reminded his players this game will be their last chance to make an impression on the coaching staff before the offseason. He's hoping to avoid ending the season with four straight losses in the noon game, which precedes a Packers-Bears matchup between two teams with playoff stakes.
Jefferson gunning for one more of Moss' records
The Vikings' young star has already eclipsed Randy Moss' team record for catches as a rookie, and he could surpass the yardage record Moss set in 1998 with 47 yards on Sunday. Jefferson is at 1,267 for the season, within range of Moss' 1,313-yard total as a rookie. (Jefferson has six touchdowns and won't be topping the 17 Moss scored in his first year).
Bevell leading Lions against his former employer
The Lions made Darrell Bevell their interim head coach after firing Matt Patricia, and the former Vikings offensive coordinator has tried rededicating the Lions to the run with De'Andre Swift and Adrian Peterson, who's still Detroit's leading rusher at age 35 and has an untold number of meetings left against his former team.
TWO KEY MATCHUPS
Vikings WR Justin Jefferson vs. Lions CB Mike Ford
With Lions first-round pick Jeff Okudah out for the season after core muscle surgery, Jefferson should see plenty of Ford, a third-year corner whom the Lions signed as an undrafted free agent out of Southeast Missouri State. Jefferson has seen his share of the Vikings' passing targets increase substantially in recent weeks; 54 of his 113 targets for the season have come in the Vikings' past five games.
Vikings T Rashod Hill vs. Lions DE Everson Griffen
As much as Griffen talked, both before and during the first matchup between the two teams on Nov. 8, he didn't play a big role for the Lions in the game shortly after the team acquired him from the Cowboys. He's had more time to find a fit as a pass rusher; he's got 2½ sacks in the past three games, and could face Hill on Sunday if Riley Reiff remains on the COVID-19 list.
ONE STAT THAT MATTERS
6: Consecutive games the Vikings have won against the Lions, dating back to a 14-7 loss against Detroit in Week 4 of the 2017 season at U.S. Bank Stadium.
The Vikings will win if …
Cousins gets enough time to exploit mismatches on Jefferson and Thielen against a feeble Lions secondary, while the run defense rebounds from a disastrous day against the Saints to keep Peterson and Swift under control.
The Lions will win if …
They can replicate the Saints' success running the ball against the Vikings' defense without Kendricks, contain Alexander Mattison and Mike Boone with Cook missing the game, and put Cousins in third-and-long situations where they can pressure him before he finds his receivers.
Goessling's prediction: Vikings 26, Lions 17