EAGAN, Minn. — The final quarter of the 2019 season starts on Sunday, as the 8-4 Vikings are looking to secure a playoff spot in December.
Minnesota was unable to keep pace with Green Bay (9-3) in the NFC North race due to Monday night’s loss in Seattle, but the Vikings would still be a Wild Card team if the season ended today.
The Vikings now begin a stretch that includes three division games at home over the final four weeks, beginning with Sunday’s matchup against the Lions. Kickoff is at noon (CT) from U.S. Bank Stadium.
Detroit is 3-8-1 and has lost eight of its past nine games.
Here’s a look at the Vikings Week 14 matchup against the Lions:
Passing: Kirk Cousins was solid against Seattle, completing 22 of 38 passes (57.9 percent) for 276 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. His passer rating was 87.2.
The quarterback tried to lead a furious fourth-quarter comeback with a pair of touchdown passes, but he also was also intercepted on the first play of the final quarter when a pass was tipped. It ended a streak of 202 consecutive pass attempts without an interception for Cousins, breaking the franchise record set by Warren Moon in 1995.
Cousins has completed 248 of 358 passes (69.3 percent) for 3,032 yards with 23 touchdowns and four interceptions through 12 games. He has a passer rating of 111.9, which ranks second in the NFL.
The Lions will likely have a different look at quarterback, as Detroit is expected to start David Blough under center.
The rookie made his NFL debut on Thanksgiving and completed 22 of 38 passes (57.9 percent) for 280 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. Blough, who hit on a pair of 50-plus yard passes, had a passer rating of 83.5.
Veteran Matthew Stafford has a back injury, while backup Jeff Driskell is on Injured Reserve with a hamstring injury. The Lions signed former Vikings quarterback Kyle Sloter, who was on the Cardinals practice squad, on Nov. 30.
Blough played collegiately at Purdue. He was signed by Cleveland as an undrafted free agent but was traded to Detroit in August.
Rushing: The Vikings had an up-and-down day on the ground against Seattle, rushing for 78 yards and a score on 14 attempts.
Dalvin Cook had 29 yards and a 2-yard score on nine attempts, but he fumbled in the third quarter and missed the rest of the game with an injury.
After the game, Cook said he will be “good to go” going forward.
Stefon Diggs had a 27-yard rush, while Alexander Mattison had 22 yards on four attempts.
Cook ranks fifth in the NFL with 1,046 yards and is tied for the league lead with 12 rushing touchdowns.
The Vikings rank sixth with 137.1 rushing yards per game, while the Lions are 18th at 105.6 yards per game.
With Detroit starter Kerryon Johnson on Injured Reserve, Bo Scarbrough and Ty Johnson have split duties in recent weeks.
Scarbrough received the majority of the work against the Bears, rushing for 83 yards in 21 carries.
Both players have 53 carries this season; Scarbrough has 236 rushing yards and Ty Johnson has 182 yards.
Receiving: Cousins spread the ball around Monday, as three players — Mattison, Rudolph and Diggs — each had four catches.
Mattison had a career-high 51 receiving yards and Rudolph had 50, including a 3-yard score, while Diggs had 25 yards. Laquon Treadwell had a career-long 58-yard touchdown catch.
The Vikings were without Adam Thielen, who was ruled out over the weekend with a hamstring injury.
Diggs leads Minnesota with 905 receiving yards on 50 catches, and he has five touchdowns. Rudolph and Thielen are tied for the team lead with six scores.
Kenny Golladay led Detroit with four catches for 128 yards and a score, while Marvin Jones, Jr. had three receptions for 40 yards and a touchdown. Rookie tight end T.J. Hockenson had six catches for 18 yards but was placed on Injured Reserve earlier this week with an ankle injury.
Golladay tops the Lions in yards (950 on 57 catches), while Jones, Jr., has 59 receptions for 741 yards. Both players have nine receiving touchdowns.
Defense: The Vikings endured a rollercoaster night on defense against Seattle, highlighted by Anthony Harris’ pick-six in the second quarter.
But the Vikings defense was hurt in the run game as Seattle ran for 218 yards, a season-high allowed by Minnesota.
Danielle Hunter and Ifeadi Odenigbo had sacks for the Vikings, who also gave up a season-high 444 total yards.
The Vikings rank 11th in the league by allowing 20.2 points per game and are 16th with 347.4 yards allowed per game. Hunter leads the team with 9.5 sacks, while Harris has a team-high four interceptions.
Detroit’s defense ranks 29th in yards allowed per game (398.1) and is 25th in points per game (26.3).
Trey Flowers had a sack on Mitch Trubisky, and Darius Slay picked off the quarterback.
Flowers and Devon Kennard lead Detroit with 6.0 sacks, and Slay has a team-high two interceptions.
Special teams: Vikings kicker Dan Bailey made his lone field goal try from 47 yards and was good on three of four extra points on Monday night.
Bailey has made 16 of 18 field goals and 33 of 36 extra points so far in 2019.
Punter Britton Colquitt averaged 42.5 yards on four punts. He’s averaging 45.5 yards per punt in 2019.
Lions kicker Matt Prater made a pair of field goals and a pair of extra points against Chicago. He’s made 22 of 26 field goals in 2019, as well as 28 of 29 extra points.
Detroit punter Sam Martin averaged 46.2 yards on five punts. He averages 43.5 yards per punt.
Kickoff returner Jamal Agnew had a 100-yard kickoff return earlier this season, and he is averaging 26.7 yards per return.
Look back at photos over the course of time featuring games between the Vikings and the Lions.
One final road test
The Vikings will play their final regular-season road game in 2019 in Week 15 against the Chargers.
Minnesota will head west for a game against Los Angeles that will kick off at 3:05 p.m. (CT). The game was originally on Sunday Night Football but was flexed out of that spot last week.
The Chargers are 4-8 entering Week 14, with all eight of their losses by seven points or fewer.