The Vikings begin a stretch of three consecutive games versus divisional opponents, as they prepare this week to host the Detroit Lions at U.S. Bank Stadium on Sunday. The Vikings are already 2-0 at home in 2017 and they'll play two of the three upcoming NFC North games at home with a game at Soldier Field on Monday Night Football sandwiched between.
Here are five storylines to follow this week in the build up to Vikings vs. Lions on Sunday…
1. Quarterback questions continue
Case Keenum answered a lot of questions last week by throwing for a career-best 369 yards to go along with three touchdowns to help the Vikings handily defeat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Who will start this Sunday for the Vikings is still up in the air and that's a question that may have a fluid answer indefinitely. The good news for the Vikings is they have a more-than-capable backup who's already demonstrated he can help the team win games and survive a stretch without the starting quarterback.
2. Vikings offensive explosion, not the Lions
Since Detroit selected Matthew Stafford in 2009, it's been the Lions offense that's grabbed the attention in Vikings-Lions matchups. And the Lions offense deserves attention now, with Stafford having already thrown seven touchdowns and the Lions averaging 28.3 points per game to this point. But it's the Vikings offense that has exploded and produced the gaudy statistics so far in 2017. Check these out:
-- Only the New England Patriots (440.7) are averaging more yards per game than the Vikings (400.7), with the passing attack (285.3 yards/game) ranked third in the NFL and Bradford and Keenum combining to generate a 115.4 passer rating – fourth-highest in the League.
-- Wide receivers Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs rank second and third, respectively, in receiving yards, giving the Vikings the only tandem in the top 10 and marking the first time two of the top three receivers in yardage after Week 3 were on the same team since the 2000 St. Louis Rams with Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt.
-- Rookie Dalvin Cook already has 288 rushing yards and trails only fellow rookie Kareem Hunt (401) in that category.
3. Xavier shadowing all season, not sure here, Tate in the slot a lot
The term shutdown cornerback is thrown around a lot, but don't hesitate in tagging the term to Xavier Rhodes. So far in 2017, receivers being guarded by Rhodes have been targeted 21 times and the production is scarce: 11 receptions for 122 yards with no touchdowns, two pass breakups, a 52.4 completion percentage and a passer rating of only 69.9. And Rhodes has generated those impressive numbers while going against three of the best receivers in the League – Michael Thomas in Week 1, Antonio Brown in Week 2 and Mike Evans in Week 3. Here come the Lions, who have Golden Tate as the top pass-catching option. Tate doesn't always generate the gaudy numbers Brown and Evans do, but he's no less lethal. Plus, Tate moves around the formation and plays a lot in the slot, especially when the Lions are in their sub groups. Rhodes has shadowed the opposing team's top threat in each of the first three games, but given Tate's propensity to move inside it will be interesting to see if the Vikings travel Rhodes inside or if they leave him outside.
Look back at photos over the course of time featuring games between the Vikings and the Lions.
4. Start like kitties, finish like Lions
Starting like kitties but finishing like Lions. That was Detroit's story in 2016, as they logged eight 4th-quarter comeback wins a season ago, a NFL record (Indianapolis had seven in 2009); the Vikings saw it first-hand, as Detroit came back to win twice on the Vikings. Detroit has done it once in 2017, as they fell down 10-0 to Arizona in Week 1 and trailed 17-15 entering the final quarter before Stafford does what he does best – led his team to a comeback win. They also never led last week's game against Atlanta but came an inch (literally) from stealing victory from the jaws of defeat on a Stafford-to-Tate connection that was ruled a touchdown with under 10 seconds to play only to be reversed via League review. So, the lesson is that the Lions are never, ever out of it. To beat them, you must play four complete quarters, and sometimes it takes a fifth complete quarter to beat them.
5. Ahmad Rashad Vikings Ring of Honor
Diggs and Thielen are tearing it up in 2017, but a pair of Vikings who tore it up in days gone by are being recognized, too. Randy Moss was inducted into the Vikings Ring of Honor at halftime of Week 1, and at halftime of this Sunday's game it'll be Ahmad Rashad who goes into Vikings immortality. Rashad led the Vikings in receiving in 1977, '79 and '80.