When: Noon Sunday, U.S. Bank Stadium
TV (radio): Ch. 9 (100.3-FM)
Line: Vikings by 9½
THREE STORY LINES
Get right before hitting the road
The Vikings are 1-3 after a 14-7 loss to the Browns last week, and start a six-game stretch next week against teams with combined records of 17-7. A home game against a winless and injury-stricken Lions team presents a good opportunity for the Vikings to sort out some of their issues and build momentum into what looks like the toughest portion of their schedule.
Win streak vs. Lions tested against new regime
The Vikings have won seven in a row against the Lions, dating to their Thanksgiving Day victory in 2017, and Kirk Cousins has thrown 15 touchdowns with just one interception in six Vikings-Lions games. The team and the quarterback will try to continue those streaks against a Lions club playing for first-year coach Dan Campbell and a defense that plays a little less man coverage under new coordinator Aaron Glenn than the Vikings saw from the Lions in the past.
Goff in a new spot
The last time the Vikings faced quarterback Jared Goff, he threw for five touchdowns and posted a perfect 158.3 passer rating in the Rams' Thursday night win in September 2018. After Goff was traded for Matthew Stafford this spring, the Vikings will see if they can disrupt him like they did in his first trip to U.S. Bank Stadium with Los Angeles in 2017. They could have their opportunities against a Lions line that will be without two former first-round picks (center Frank Ragnow and tackle Taylor Decker) and could also be without 2021 first-rounder Penei Sewell, questionable with an ankle injury.
TWO KEY MATCHUPS
Vikings DE Danielle Hunter vs. Lions RT Matt Nelson
Nelson stepped in for the injured Decker at the beginning of the season, and the Cedar Rapids, Iowa, native has struggled in pass protection. The Lions could try to give him help against Hunter, who posted his fifth sack of the season last week against Cleveland. But with the crowd noise in Hunter's favor, the defensive end could be in for a big day facing a team against which he already has three multi-sack games in his career.
Vikings WR Justin Jefferson vs. Lions CB Amani Oruwariye
This could be another matchup where the Vikings enjoy a significant advantage. The Lions are without former No. 3 overall pick Jeff Okudah after the cornerback tore one of his Achilles' tendons in Week 1, leaving Oruwariye as their right cornerback. He's struggled in coverage this year, and Bobby Price, who'll likely be at left cornerback on Sunday, was targeted five times for 149 yards in the Lions' loss to the Bears last week. If Cousins has a clean pocket, he could have a big day finding Jefferson and Adam Thielen.
ONE STAT THAT MATTERS
32: Vikings sacks in their seven-game win streak against Detroit; they had a 10-sack game in 2018, a six-sack game in 2017 and a five-sack game in 2019.
THE VIKINGS WILL WIN IF …
They're able to take advantage of a depleted Lions line at home, avoid the kinds of untimely penalties that have waylaid too many drives this year, and get a big day from Cousins that ideally allows them to build a big lead and reduce Dalvin Cook's workload as he continues to recover from a right ankle sprain.
THE LIONS WILL WIN IF …
Goff can work from a clean pocket frequently enough to test the Vikings' secondary; the Lions run the ball well against a Minnesota defense that will be without Michael Pierce; and Detroit can steal a couple possessions with turnovers that disrupt the Vikings' offensive flow and set up easy scores.
Prediction: Vikings 34, Lions 17