With Sam Bradford out again, the Vikings will need another solid game from Case Keenum to stay tied for the NFC North lead. They’ll have to avoid turnovers against a team that’s forced eight of them already this season, but Detroit also gave up 152 rushing yards a week ago. A solid day from Dalvin Cook will move the Vikings to 3-1. Prediction: Vikings 24, Lions 20.
Three big story lines
Keenum looks for an encore
After throwing for 369 yards and three touchdowns a week ago, Keenum will start his third game of the season Sunday. The Lions tend to play coverage instead of sending extra pass rushers, so Keenum might have to be patient if the downfield shots he hit last week aren’t there.
Effectiveness outside the pocket might be one reason for Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford’s improved play. He’s run six times for 57 yards, and ESPN Stats and Information says he’s hitting 53 percent of his passes from outside the pocket.
NFC North stretch begins
Sunday’s matchup is the first of three consecutive NFC North games for the Vikings, who went 2-4 in division games last season, and it might be one of the most important.
Two key matchups
Vikings DE Everson Griffen vs. Lions LT Greg Robinson
Griffen will face the former No. 2 overall pick in the draft, and he doesn’t sound impressed. “He’s lazy,” Griffen said this week. “He gets beat on the inside. I think the biggest thing is he’s got to compete more, but yeah, he’s pretty lazy.” Griffen has four sacks this season.
Vikings LT Riley Reiff vs. Lions DE Ezekiel Ansah
Reiff has been impressive through his first three games for the Vikings; his fourth finds him facing his old team, and a pass rusher who has tormented Minnesota. Ansah has five sacks in eight games against the Vikings, and has three this season.
One stat that matters
Plus-8 The Vikings’ and Lions’ combined turnover margin this season. Minnesota (plus-2) hasn’t thrown an interception; Detroit (plus-6) has only two turnovers.
The Vikings will win if ...
They can pressure Stafford in the pocket, sustain drives against patient coverage and get a couple more big runs from Cook.
The Lions will win if ...
They’re able to disrupt the serene pockets Keenum enjoyed against the Buccaneers, while adding a timely interception or two.
Goessling’s win probability