Minnesota Vikings look for chance to feast against Detroit Lions on Sunday
By DAVE CAMPBELL
AP Pro Football Writer
MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Vikings brought back little to show from a trip to one of the toughest places to play in the NFL. Other than additional injuries to important players and perhaps some pride in a fourth-quarter rally in Seattle that fell a bit short, that is.
There’s a reward waiting for them at home, though, with a depleted Detroit Lions team toting a five-game losing streak. The Vikings will make the playoffs if they win out, and the last quarter of the season presents an unprecedented advantage. All three NFC North foes must play this month at U.S. Bank Stadium, where the Vikings are 5-0 this year and 23-7 in the regular season and postseason since it opened in 2016.
Never before in team history have the Vikings had more than two intradivision home games stashed in the final four weeks of the schedule. The NFL first went to a divisional alignment in 1967.
“We need this one, and it’s going to be really important the last quarter of the season, now that we’re three-quarters of the way through, that we finish really strong,” quarterback Kirk Cousins said. “We’ve still got to go out and earn everything in front of us.”
Even with Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford likely to miss his fifth straight game to a back and hip injury, with undrafted rookie David Blough now manning the offense, the Vikings (8-4) ought not to relax about this game. The last time they played at home on Nov. 17, they fell behind 20-0 at halftime to a Denver team that’s now 4-8, before furiously rallying for a 27-23 victory.
These Lions (3-8-1) have led in every game, and each of their losses during the streak have come by eight points or fewer.
“For us, there are positives in all of it and negatives in all of it,” coach Matt Patricia said. “You’d certainly rather be in close games than not close games, that’s for sure.”
Prior to Minnesota’s 42-30 win at Detroit on Oct. 20, the Lions lost by one point to Green Bay and by four points to Kansas City after leading both of those games with less than 30 seconds to go.
Blough performed admirably in his debut on Thanksgiving Day, passing for 280 yards and two touchdowns and one late interception against a stout Chicago defense to give the Lions a spark.