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Early Look: Vikings at Lions

EAGAN, Minn. — The Vikings have reached the penultimate game of the 2018 regular season.

Minnesota sits at 7-6-1 and is in contention only for a Wild Card spot because Chicago (10-4) clinched the NFC North on Sunday afternoon.

The Vikings will now finish off the regular season with a pair of division games, starting with a Week 16 road tilt against Detroit. The Lions reside in last place in the NFC North with a 5-9 record.

If Carolina loses on Monday Night Football in Week 15, Minnesota can clinch a playoff berth Sunday with a win plus losses by Washington and Philadelphia.

Here’s a look at Minnesota’s Week 16 road game against the Lions:

Passing: Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins had an efficient day while completing 14 of 21 passes (66.7 percent) for 215 yards with two touchdowns and an interception against the Dolphins. He had a passer rating of 112.2 and was sacked twice.

Cousins’ lone interception was a costly one as it was returned for a touchdown by Miami, but it was more about rookie Minkah Fitzpatrick making a good play.

The quarterback is ranked ninth in the NFL with 3,913 yards and 26 touchdowns passes. Cousins, who has a quarterback rating of 70.5, is second with a completion percentage of 99.0.

Matthew Stafford was questionable heading into Detroit’s Week 15 game against Buffalo with a back injury, but the Lions quarterback played the entire game.

Stafford completed 22 of 29 passes for 208 yards with a touchdown and a passer rating of 106.7.

Stafford, who is 8-9 in his career against the Vikings, was sacked 10 times by the Vikings in the previous meeting. He has thrown for 3,395 yards with 19 touchdowns and 11 interceptions for Detroit this season.

Rushing: The Vikings produced one of their best ground games in recent seasons as Minnesota racked up 220 rushing yards against Miami.

That was the Vikings highest total since racking up 263 yards against the Raiders in Week 10 of the 2015 season, and it came thanks to 40 rushing attempts on offense.

Dalvin Cook led the way with a career-high 136 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries against his hometown team.

Latavius Murray added 68 yards, including an 18-yard score on 15 carries.

Murray leads the Vikings with 538 yards and six touchdowns, and Cook has 503 yards and two scores in nine games.

Minnesota ranks 29th with 95.0 rushing yards per game, and the Lions rank 24th with 103.1 yards per game.

Theo Riddick led the Lions with 47 yards on eight carries Sunday, while Zach Zenner had 45 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries. LeGarrette Blount had nine yards on seven attempts.

Lions running back Kerryon Johnson missed Sunday’s game but leads the team with 641 yards and also had three scores. Blount has a team-high five rushing touchdowns and 374 rushing yards.

Receiving: The Vikings spread the ball around Sunday, as six different receivers caught at least one pass from Cousins.

Minnesota’s leading receiver was rookie tight end Tyler Conklin, who had 53 yards on two catches. Stefon Diggs had four catches for 49 yards and a touchdown, and Kyle Rudolph had three receptions for 23 yards.

Aldrick Robinson had two catches for 44 yards, including a 40-yard touchdown, and Adam Thielen had two catches for 19 yards. Cook added a catch for 27 yards.

Thielen leads the NFL with 105 receptions and has 1,255 yards and nine touchdowns. Diggs has 92 catches for 964 yards and seven scores. The duo is the first in Vikings history to have more than 90 receptions each in a season.

Kenny Golladay had a team-high seven catches for 146 yards on Sunday. Tight end Levine Toilolo had four catches for 28 yards, and Brandon Powell had three catches for 11 yards.

Golladay leads Detroit with 64 catches for 1,005 yards and is tied with Marvin Jones, Jr., for the team lead with five touchdown catches.

Defense: The Vikings defense allowed a season-low 193 yards of offense to Miami on Sunday.

Minnesota racked up nine sacks, and the Dolphins net passing total was just 37 yards. Miami ran for 156 yards, but 75 of them came on one touchdown.

Anthony Barr and Danielle Hunter had a pair of sacks apiece Sunday. Sheldon Richardson, Tom Johnson, Everson Griffen, Eric Kendricks and Mackensie Alexander each had a sack.

Hunter leads the Vikings with 14.5 sacks, which is a career high and is tied for second in the NFL.

Safeties Harrison Smith and Anthony Harris lead Minnesota with three interceptions each.

Minnesota ranks fourth in yards allowed per game (314.3) and 12th in points allowed per game (22.0).

The Lions rank 12th in yards allowed per game (346.1) and are tied for 18th in points allowed per game (23.8).

Detroit allowed 312 yards to Buffalo, including 117 yards on the ground.

Devon Kennard had the Lions lone sack against the Bills, and he leads Detroit with 7.0 sacks. Darius Slay has a team-high three interceptions.

Special Teams: Vikings punt returner Marcus Sherels had one of the best days of his career with five punt returns for 116 yards, including a 70-yard return that helped swing momentum back to the Vikings.

Kicker Dan Bailey made both field goals Sunday and all five extra point tries. Bailey is 18 of 25 on field goals since joining the Vikings in Week 3. Punter Matt Wile averaged 42.3 yards per punt.

Lions kicker Matt Prater missed his lone field goal try Sunday, and is 24 of 28 on field goals in 2018. Lions punter Sam Martin averages 45.3 yards per punt.

Neither the Vikings nor the Lions have a kickoff return or punt return for a score in 2018.

Look back at photos over the course of time featuring games between the Vikings and the Lions.

Over The Years

The Vikings are 73-39-2 all-time against the Lions, and the teams have never met in postseason play.

The 114 total matchups are tied for the second-most against an opponent in Vikings franchise history along with Chicago. The Vikings have only played Green Bay more times.

Minnesota has fared well of late at Ford Field. The Vikings have won two of the past three meetings in Detroit.

Minnesota’s longest win streak in the rivalry is 13 games, which spanned from 1968 to 1974. Detroit’s longest win streak is five games and came in the first five meetings between the teams.

Last meeting: Vikings 24, Lions 9, Nov. 4, 2018, in Minneapolis

The Vikings finally ended their woes at U.S. Bank Stadium against the Lions with a win thanks to a ferocious defense.

Minnesota set a single-game franchise record with 10 sacks of Stafford. Hunter led the way with 3.5 of them. Johnson had 2.5 sacks, and Griffen had 1.5. Alexander and Stephen Weatherly had a sack apiece. Richardson had 0.5 sacks in the win.

Murray gave the Vikings an early lead on a 1-yard touchdown run before Prater booted a pair of field goals.

Minnesota led 7-6 before scoring 10 unanswered points in the final three-plus minutes of the second half.

Thielen caught a 2-yard touchdown pass before Bailey added a field goal for a 17-6 halftime lead.

Hunter found the end zone a little more than midway through the fourth quarter when he scooped up a Stafford fumble and raced 32 yards for the score.

The Lions had just 209 yards of total offense and converted just four of 15 third-down tries.

Cook had a 70-yard run and led the Vikings with 89 yards on 10 carries.

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