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The cheat sheet: A battle for last place in the NFC North

Minnesota Vikings vs. Detroit Lions game preview and prediction.

Detroit Lions v Minnesota Vikings Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

In terms of wins and losses, it’s going to be a fairly meaningless game when the Vikings make a final trip to Detroit on Sunday. Both teams are near the bottom of the division. A Lions win would both put teams at 6-10. A loss would cement the Lions at the bottom of the NFC North for the third year in a row.

While wins won’t really matter for either team in terms of the playoffs, they could have a big impact on draft position. If the Lions lose on Sunday, they’ll most likely draft anywhere from three to eight. And if they win their draft position could drop as far as 13. That could be a devastating fall for an organization that currently only has five picks in the upcoming draft.

Detroit Lions v Minnesota Vikings Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Opponent snapshot

This is the worst Vikings team we’ve seen in years. Their offense has weapons all over the field. Adam Thielen and Dalvin Cook have had solid seasons and rookie Justin Jefferson has replaced defense Stefon Diggs seamlessly.

Like the Lions, the Vikings will need a defensive overhaul to be competitive in 2021.

Dallas Cowboys v Minnesota Vikings Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Vikings’ biggest threat

Justin Jefferson

Jefferson could very well be the Offensive Rookie of the Year.

His excellent route running has helped him snag 79 catches for 1,267 and seven touchdowns through the first 15 games. With Dalvin Cook set to miss Sunday’s game, it could be a big day for Jefferson.

The Lions have given up an average of 318 passing yards over the last five games, and are coming off of a season-worst 477-yard performance last week against the Buccaneers.

In their last meeting, the Lions held Jefferson to 64 yards on four targets. But since Week 10 Jefferson is averaging around 10 targets and 91 yards per game.

Minnesota Vikings v New Orleans Saints Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Vikings’ weak link


The main problem for the Vikings has been on defense. Mike Zimmer’s pride and joy has been a complete disaster. They’ve struggled to replace pass rushers Everson Griffen (free agency) and Danielle Hunter (injured reserve) and have been forced to play young players in the secondary as well.

Here’s how the Vikings have faired so far in 2020:

  • 122 missed tackles (28th)
  • 5875 yards given up (27th)
  • 7.8 yards per pass attempt (27th),
  • 4.5 yards per rush attempt (20th)
  • 22 sacks this year (26th)

Bottom line

I feel like the most “Lions” thing ever would be to win this meaningless game and cost themselves a top 10 draft pick. But I don’t see it happening. The Vikings will be able to do enough through the air to beat a decimated Lions defense.


Lions 17 Vikings 23

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