The Vikings’ secondary depth will be tested as much as ever on Sunday, with two corners on injured reserve and two others out for the game. But the Lions — without Kenny Golladay and Trey Flowers — could be in even worse shape. In what might be a war of attrition, the Vikings will win at home and build a little more confidence.
THREE BIG STORY LINES
Looking for a win streak
The Vikings are still only 2-5 after last week’s surprising win over the Packers, but they’ve got four of their next five at home against a series of sub-. 500 teams and could keep a playoff pipe dream alive with some stretch of consistency. They’re 0-3 at home this season.
Three familiar faces return to Minnesota
Adrian Peterson will make his third return to U.S. Bank Stadium. Former Vikings safety Jayron Kearse is also with the Lions. But the most interesting reunion might be with Everson Griffen, whose first game with Detroit comes on Sunday. Griffen took issue with coach Mike Zimmer’s passing remark this week that he was a “good player” in Minnesota, saying he deserved more praise.
Stafford gets go-ahead
Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford — who beat the Vikings in five of his first eight games against Zimmer’s defense — was activated off the COVID-19 reserve list Saturday. His wife, Kelly, reportedly had been in close contact with someone who tested positive for the virus.
TWO KEY MATCHUPS
Vikings LT Riley Reiff vs. Lions DE Everson Griffen
Griffen could step in at right end with Flowers out, meaning he’d get to reprise the battles he staged against Reiff during training camp the past three years. The Vikings know how electric Griffen can be, and his comments last week showed how motivated he is to prove something against his former team. They could try to use his energy against him, particularly if Kirk Cousins can get him to jump offside.
Vikings WR Adam Thielen vs. Lions CB Jeff Okudah
The Lions used the third pick in the draft to select Okudah out of Ohio State, and after he struggled against Aaron Rodgers in his first NFL game — just as the Vikings’ rookie corners did — he’s been better in coverage in recent weeks. The Vikings will likely try to test him with Thielen’s ability to set up corners and be physical with them.
ONE STAT THAT MATTERS
10-to-1: Cousins’ career touchdown-to-interception ratio in five games against the Lions. He’s undefeated against Detroit in four games with the Vikings, having posted three straight games with passer ratings above 100 against them.
THE VIKINGS WILL WIN IF …
Cousins continues his outstanding play against Detroit and Dalvin Cook has another strong day against a Lions defense ranked 23rd in the league against the run, while the Vikings’ makeshift secondary limits big plays for a Lions offense that’s short on weapons with Golladay out because of a hip injury.
THE LIONS WILL WIN IF …
Stafford is effective at making throws outside the pocket against the Vikings’ secondary, while Detroit’s defense is able to limit Cook and make Cousins uncomfortable enough to commit a turnover or two, after he played a turnover-free game against the Packers last week.
Prediction: Vikings 27, Lions 23