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Minnesota Vikings vs. Detroit Lions Preview and Prediction

Matthew Stafford

Matthew Stafford

The Minnesota Vikings (3-2) and Detroit Lions (1-5) will close their season series on Sunday in Detroit with both teams looking to build off of key victories last week.

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In the first meeting, the Minnesota defense was the story, harassing quarterback Matthew Stafford with constant pressure and holding Detroit to just six points in the second half en route to a 26-16 victory.

Detroit comes in with a bit of momentum after notching their first win of the season and will look to get a second straight win over a divisional foe, while the Vikings will look to keep pace with the undefeated Packers in the NFC North.

Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions


Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET (Sunday)
TV Channel: FOX
Spread: Vikings -2.5

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Three Things to Watch

1. Offensive success comes from up high
No, not above-the-clouds high. Detroit offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi made the move last week against the Chicago Bears to the coaches’ box and called by far his best game of the season. The much-criticized play-caller had apparently wanted to make the move upstairs for some time now, and the results were evident as the Lions put up the second-most yards by a team all year long with 546 — later to be broken that same day by the Chargers with 548. With the success the Lions had against the Bears last Sunday, Lombardi will be coaching from the box once again to see if the offense can continue moving the football consistently on a week-to-week basis.

2. Emerging rookie
Minnesota rookie receiver Stefon Diggs was one of the bright spots for the Vikings during the preseason and that play has continued into regular season after receiving plenty of reps the past two weeks with Charles Johnson out with a rib injury. In his first two games, Diggs has caught 13 passes for 216 yards which already places him 3rd amongst rookies in receiving yardage. Diggs has made an impression on his teammates as well, with fellow receiver Mike Wallace comparing him this week to a young Antonio Brown. And if your fantasy team is in need of a receiver, Athlon has Diggs listed as one of their top waiver wire selections leading into Week 7, currently owned in just three percent of leagues.

3. Riddick to the rescue

Between Joique Bell’s injury, Zach Zenner being placed on injured reserve and Ameer Abdullah’s fumbling issues, it is not surprising that the Lions have been one of the most one-dimensional offenses in the NFL. The lone positive to come out of the above circumstances is that the Lions may have uncovered their best playmaker at the position in Theo Riddick. The third-year running back out of Notre Dame leads all players at his position in receptions with 33 and is third on the team in targets behind Golden Tate and Calvin Johnson. Riddick still has room to grow as a running back, but has become one of the more valuable and trusted assets on this Lions offense.

Final Analysis

One good offensive performance against a below average defense does not mean all is well for Detroit moving forward. The Lions still have a litany of issues on both sides of the football and do not closely resemble the same team that won 11 games in 2014. Minnesota is a team that is trending in the right direction, playing complementary football with a defense that currently ranks second in the league in points allowed and an offense that is steadily improving each week. The Vikings are the more complete team at this point in the season and will get a series sweep over the Lions.

Prediction: Vikings 24, Lions 20

— Written by Mike Bainbridge, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Bainbridge is a graduate of Northern Illinois University and current writer for CollegeFootballGeek.com. Make sure to follow him on Twitter @MikeBainbridge2.