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5 Detroit Lions player key to victory over the Minnesota Vikings

A look at the players that must have a good game if Detroit wants to pull the upset Sunday.

NFL: NOV 23 Vikings at Lions Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

For the fifth game in a row, the Detroit Lions are underdogs heading into their next matchup. This week, the Minnesota Vikings are slight one-point favorites, even though they travel to Ford Field this week.

With the Vikings playing as hot as they are right now, it will take some solid performances all around from Detroit if they want to notch their first divisional win of the year. These five players, in particular, will be very key to a Lions victory.

Rick Wagner

Protecting Matthew Stafford has been difficult against this Vikings defense. Danielle Hunter and Everson Griffen combine to form one of the most talented pass-rushing duos in the NFL.

However, there is some hope this week. The last time the two teams faced off, Wagner was one of the best players on the field. Danielle Hunter managed just one total pressure the entire game and just two tackles. If Wagner can repeat that performance, the Lions have a shot.

Kenny Golladay

Keeping with the Lions passing game, Golladay needs to continue his solid 2019 season against the Vikings’ currently underperforming cornerbacks. Xavier Rhodes is certainly a talented player, but he’s not playing like it, and Golladay needs to take advantage.

If there’s any weak point in the Vikings defense right now, it’s in that secondary. Minnesota is just 21st in completion percentage allowed. And even though they aren’t particularly susceptible to the big play, Golladay presents a pretty good mismatch for this defense.

Trey Flowers

The Lions cornerbacks—as good as they’ve been this year—will have their hands full against Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs. The equalizer there is a pass rush.

Detroit has not had a pass rush to speak of through five games. And while Flowers hasn’t been playing poorly, he hasn’t brought the consistent pressure that I think many expected of him.

Flowers will certainly be eager to get back on that field after last week’s screwjob. Hopefully that additional motivation will be enough to create some pressure against a mediocre Riley Reiff at left tackle.

Damon Harrison Sr.

The Lions run defense has been non-existent through five games, ranking near the bottom of the league in nearly every category. Every opponent, thus far, has rushed for at least 110 yards and 4.2 yards per carry or more.

Snacks is far from the sole reason for the Lions’ failures (hello, linebackers), but he also hasn’t been at his best. With Dalvin Cook coming to town, it’s time to see Harrison at his best.

And he’ll get the opportunity this week. He’ll be lined up opposite rookie center Garrett Bradbury, who struggled early in the season but is starting to get his feet settled. Snacks should give him a nice “Welcome to the league” moment on Sunday, and given how much the Vikings love to run the ball, that would be huge for Detroit.

Justin Coleman

Coleman has been playing out of his mind through five weeks, making Lions general manager Bob Quinn look like the smartest man in the room after handing him a hefty free agent contract. But this week, he’ll have to help neutralize Thielen, who may just be the best route runner in the NFL.

Thielen hasn’t had quite the insane production from last year. He’s currently averaging just over 60 yards per game, but he only has one game where he eclipsed 100 yards receiving.

Coleman, on the other hand, is currently fourth in the NFL is passes defended, and PFF has him ranked as top-five cornerback.

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