Final Thoughts: Lions, a familiar opponent, pose a unique challenge

Sunday will mark the 115th meeting all-time between the Vikings and Lions. It will be Mike Zimmer’s 10th time facing Detroit as head coach of the Vikings. It will be Matthew Stafford’s 18th game against the Vikings. Suffice it to say, this is a familiar matchup for both sides.

But the circumstances surrounding this Week 16 meeting have created an aura of unpredictability around the Lions. With two games to go, the Lions are eliminated from postseason contention and they are dealing with several starters missing this week’s game. That has led to speculation about what Detroit may try to do schematically that will be different than if they were still contending for a playoff berth.

“I mean they could throw a bunch of reverse passes and halfback passes, things like that,” Zimmer acknowledged. “But we just have to go out and play, and if we’re reading our keys and doing the things that we’re supposed to do, we should be good. It could be a bunch of zero blitzes, who knows. It’s important that we’re on point with everything. Typically that gets back to focusing on your key and where you go from there.”

In listening to Zimmer and his coordinators this week, one this is clear: the Vikings, who are full tilt to win out and qualify for the playoffs, will not be overlooking this five-win Lions team.

Mailbag

What two big things must the Vikings keep doing that they've been doing and what two big things do the Vikings need to start doing consistently that perhaps they haven't been yet? Skol!

-- Jeff Kilty

Sacramento

The Vikings have allowed 180 passing yards and they have 11 sacks the last two games, ranking first and tied for first, respectively, in the NFL during that span. Continuing to limit passing production against them while also generating sacks will make the Vikings defense very formidable going forward. Two things the Vikings could start doing more consistently that would make them even tougher to beat are run the ball and create explosive plays on special teams. The Vikings ran 40 times last week and averaged 5.5 yards per rush, which is obviously an offensive formula that leads to a lot of wins. And remember Marcus Sherels 70-yard punt return? An explosive play like that helps flip field position and puts the offense in an ideal spot to score points.

Quotable

Those who know Kevin Stefanski well know that two of his strongest traits are his humility and his sense of humor. Both of those traits were on display during his press conference this week when he was asked about the success he had in his first game as a play caller.

Q: What has it been like for you personally with people reaching out?

A: Again, I appreciate the texts. That was a one-time deal for me, then it’s we’re moving on. Last week we enjoyed it, I am already breaking my 24-hour rule. I am going to be in trouble here with the offensive line. I am getting a fine but I am trying to move on from last week. Again, we are ready, we recognize the effort last week was good but it’s required again this week.

Q: What is your thing with the offensive line?

A: You just have to be careful with the offensive line. They’ll fine you for just about anything.

Q: For talking about the Miami game?

A: I’m not even going to talk about it.

Tweet of the Week

Stat of the Week

Adam Thielen needs one touchdown and Stefon Diggs needs eight catches and three touchdowns to become the first wide receiver duo in NFL history to have at least 100 catches and 10 touchdowns in the same season

It is far from a certainty that either player will reach his threshold to make this hypothetical stat become a reality, but the fact that Diggs and Thielen are this close to that milestone is a tribute to their ability and durability as well as to the season Kirk Cousins has had.

Broadcast Information

National TV: FOX

Play-by-Play: Chris Myers

Analyst: Daryl Johnston

Sideline: Laura Okmin

Local Radio: KFAN-FM 100.3/KTLK-AM 1130

Play-by-Play: Paul Allen

Analyst: Pete Bercich

Sideline: Greg Coleman, Ben Leber

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