Facing a Lions team resigned to another non-playoff season after six losses in eight games, the Vikings have every reason to take care of business on Sunday and keep themselves in strong playoff position. Things rarely come easy at Ford Field, but their defense should help them win comfortably this time.
Three Big Story Lines
Playoff berth in sight
The Vikings can clinch a wild-card spot with a victory coupled with an Eagles loss or tie vs. the Texans. Considering the Bears can still be in position for a first-round bye with a victory at San Francisco, the Vikings can’t count on facing Chicago’s reserves in Week 17.
Another shot at Stafford
After sacking Matthew Stafford 10 times in the first meeting, the Vikings might find getting to the Lions QB more difficult on the road, but they have a history of making life difficult for the former No. 1 pick.
Diggs tries to join Thielen in triple digits
Stefon Diggs, who has 92 catches this season, has a chance to join Adam Thielen among Vikings receivers with 100-catch seasons. They would be only the second duo in NFL history with 100-catch seasons in the same season, joining Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark from the 2009 Colts.
Two Key Matchups
Vikings WR Stefon Diggs vs. Lions CB Darius Slay
Diggs didn’t play in the Vikings’ first matchup with the Lions, giving Detroit a chance to focus largely on Adam Thielen. With Diggs healthy this time around, he could see a heavy dose of Slay, who has shadowed opposing receivers seven times this season.
Vikings DE Danielle Hunter vs. Lions T Rick Wagner
Hunter had three sacks in the Vikings’ first meeting with the Lions, and can trigger a $1 million escalator clause in his contract if he reaches 15 sacks for the season. He needs only a half-sack to hit the milestone as he lines up against Wagner, whom the Vikings courted in free agency before signing Riley Reiff and Mike Remmers in 2016.
One Stat That Matters
7 Times in their past nine games the Vikings have given up less than 300 total yards. The 209 they gave up in a 24-9 victory over the Lions on Nov. 4 remains their second-lowest total of the season.
The Vikings Will Win If…
They can pressure Stafford with anything resembling the level of frequency they had at U.S. Bank Stadium on Nov. 4, while quarterback Kirk Cousins plays his first turnover-free game on the road since the Vikings beat the Jets on Oct. 21.
The Lions Will Win If…
They are able to get the ball out quickly against the Vikings pass rush and find some success in the open field, use Damon Harrison to stifle the Vikings’ commitment to the run game and force Cousins into a bad decision or two.
Goessling’s Prediction: Vikings, 31-14
Win Probability: 65 percent