On a day that is all about giving thanks, the Vikings will be looking to take when they arrive at Ford Field on Thursday. They're looking to take back control of the NFC North with a win as they challenge the NFC North-leading Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving Day.
Here are five storylines to watch in the buildup to the Vikings-Lions matchup on Thursday…
1. NFC North lead on the line
There will still be plenty of football to go – five weeks, to be exact. But when all is said and done on Thursday afternoon in Detroit, the winner of the Vikings-Lions game will be in sole possession of first place in the NFC North. The teams share 6-4 records for the moment, but Detroit gets the edge by way of a head-to-head tie breaker because of their win over the Vikings in Week 9. The Vikings can even the head-to-head score and restore order in the division with a big win over Detroit on Thanksgiving Day.
2. Vikings offensive line looks to build upon last week's effort
The Vikings offensive line demonstrated improvement against Arizona, providing solid protection for Sam Bradford and showing signs of life in the running game and short-yardage situations. With the injury to Jake Long, TJ Clemmings moved from right tackle to left tackle and Jeremiah Sirles filled in at right tackle. The Vikings are poised to open the game in Detroit with the same starting five as the week prior, something they hadn't done since Week 8. Continuity will help this group build upon a solid showing against Arizona as they look to finish the regular season on a strong and improving note.
3. Stefon Diggs – the Vikings Lion tamer
Vikings WR Stefon Diggs has played against Detroit just two times, but he's made both instances count. Last year, Diggs hauled in six grabs for 80 yards, including his first career touchdown on a highlight reel-worthy leaping catch. Back in Week 9, Diggs caught 13 passes for 80 yards, bringing his two-game total against the Lions to 19 receptions for 188 yards and one touchdown. Diggs has missed practice time this week, so his status bears monitoring. If he plays, you can be sure the Lions defense will have a plan for Diggs. If he doesn't play, another Vikings playmaker will have to step up.
4. Defending dual-threat Theo Riddick
There's no question Theo Riddick is among the best pass-catching RBs in the NFL. The Vikings, though, held him to just one catch in Week 9. There's also no question that Arizona's David Johnson is among the best dual-threat RBs in the League, and he's coming off a productive performance against the Vikings defense. Johnson had seven catches for 57 yards, plus 103 rushing yards, against the Vikings last Sunday. The Vikings must find out why Johnson was able to have success against them and correct that issue if they want to neutralize Detroit's best offensive weapon once again.
5. Vikings must handle this week's challenges
The biggest game of the season to date doesn't come without some inherent challenges for the Vikings. The game is on the road, on a holiday and on a short week. It's against a team that's won four out of five and is supremely confident right now. And they might be short-handed on defense, with four starters missing practice time on Monday and Tuesday. Head coach Mike Zimmer and his team must handle all of these challenges and the circumstances on game day in order to exact revenge on their division foes and reclaim top standing in their division.