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Game Preview: Vikings vs. Lions

For the second consecutive year, the Minnesota Vikings (8-2) will travel to face the Detroit Lions (6-4) on Thanksgiving at Ford Field. The Vikings own a 3-1 road record, and the Lions are 2-3 at home in 2017. The Vikings 8-2 start is the best start through 10 games for Minnesota since starting 9-1 in 2009. The Vikings currently have a six-game winning streak, tied with New England for the third-best streak in the NFL and also the second-longest streak since Zimmer become head coach in 2014 (eight regular-season games from 12/20/15-10/9/16).

The Vikings offense, which ranks fifth in the NFL in yards per game (372.5), has been led by the consistent play from WR Adam Thielen, who is second in the NFL with 916 receiving yards and tied for fifth in the NFL with 62 receptions. QB Case Keenum has stepped in to start eight games, posting a 6-2 record and compiling 12 touchdowns, five interceptions and a career-best 93.7 passer rating. RBs Jerick McKinnon and Latavius Murray have filled the void left by rookie starting RB Dalvin Cook, helping the Vikings rush for 133.5 yards per game since Week 5, seventh in the NFL in that span. WR Stefon Diggs grabbed his team-leading fifth touchdown pass at Washington in Week 10 and has scored three touchdowns on third downs this season, tied for second in the NFL.

The Vikings defense, which limited the NFL's highest scoring team to seven points in Week 11, has held opponents to 290.5 yards per game (fifth in the NFL) and 17.2 points per game (fourth in the NFL). The Vikings defense has limited opponents to 77.7 rushing yards per game (second in the NFL) and 3.3 yards per rush (third in the NFL).

The reigning NFC Defensive Player of the Month DE Everson Griffen is tied for fourth in the NFL with 10 sacks this season, the third time in his career he has reached double digits (12 in 2014, 10.5 in 2015). LB Eric Kendricks leads the Vikings with 94 tackles (coaches' stats) and has tied his career high with 13 tackles on three separate occasions this season (at PIT, vs BAL, at CLE). S Harrison Smith has snagged a team-leading 3 interceptions this season, ranking tied for 7th in the NFL.

BROADCAST INFORMATION

NATIONAL TELEVISION: FOX

Play-by-Play: Joe Buck    Analyst: Troy Aikman
Sideline: Erin Andrews

NATIONAL RADIO: WESTWOOD ONE SPORTS

Play-by-Play: Kevin Kugler    Analyst: Ross Tucker
Sideline: Hub Arkush

LOCAL RADIO: KFAN-FM 100.3/KTLK-AM 1130

Play-by-Play: Paul Allen       Analyst: Pete Bercich
Sideline Reporters: Greg Coleman and Ben Leber
Pre-Game Show: Mike Mussman – 9:30 a.m. CT
KFAN and KTLK serve as the flagship stations for the 72-station, five-state Vikings Radio Network.

NORSEMAN NOTABLES

• The Vikings defense has been one of the stingiest in the NFL on third down, holding opponents to a 28.6 percent (36/126) third-down conversion rate, the best mark in the NFL.

• WR Adam Thielen has the most games with 90-plus yards (six) in the NFL and is tied for first in the NFL for most games with five-plus receptions (10). Thielen has also proven clutch, grabbing the second-most third-down receptions in the NFL (22), 18 of which have converted first downs.

• After totaling 304 yards and four touchdowns at Washington (11/12/17), Vikings QB Case Keenum became the first Viking QB to throw for over 300 yards and at least four touchdowns on the road since Daunte Culpepper threw for 425 yards and five touchdowns at New Orleans (10/17/04).

• TE Kyle Rudolph has caught 10 of his 11 red zone targets, the most RZ catches by a TE in 2017.

• The Vikings offense is tied for second in the NFL with 47 plays of 20-plus yards: 36 passing (eighth in NFL) and 11 rushing (tied for third in NFL). The Rams also have 47, and the Saints rank first with 57.

• The Vikings have nine scoring drives of 80-plus yards in 2017, five more than they totaled in all of 2016.

• The Vikings have allowed only 10 sacks this season, tied for the fewest in the NFL (Saints) and have had five games without allowing a sack, tying a franchise record for most in a single season.

• The Vikings have a 5-2 record overall (2-2 vs. Detroit) on Thanksgiving Day.

• With 311 yards after catch (10th in NFL) and 605 yards at catch (tied third in NFL), Adam Thielen joins Antonio Brown as the only two in the NFL to rank in the top 10 in both categories.

• QB Case Keenum currently has gone a franchise record 102 pass attempts without being sacked, breaking the previous team record of 98 by Fran Tarkenton from 11/5/72-11/26/72.

STAT OF THE WEEK

Dating back to last season, RB Latavius Murray has been one of the best in the league at finding the end zone, rushing for 16 touchdowns since the start of 2016.

Rushing Touchdowns - 2016-17 NFL

Rk) Player, Team Rushing TDs

1) Ezekiel Elliot, DAL 22

2) LeGarrette Blount, NE/PHI 22

3) LeSean McCoy, BUF 17

4t) Latavius Murray, OAK/MIN 16

4t) Devonta Freeman, ATL 16

4t) David Johnson, ARI 16

VIKINGS-LIONS CONNECTIONS

Vikings GM Rick Spielman received his first NFL personnel experience with the Lions serving as a college scout from 1990-94 before adding pro scouting duties in his final two seasons (1995-96) with the Lions.

Vikings COO Kevin Warren spent 2001-03 with the Detroit Lions as Senior VP of Business Operations and General Counsel.

Vikings Personnel Consultant Jerry Reichow was a fourth-round pick in 1956 by Detroit and helped the Lions to their most-recent NFL title in 1957.

Alan Williams joined the Lions coaching staff in 2014 as the DBs coach after spending the 2012-13 seasons as the Vikings defensive coordinator.

Vikings T Riley Reiff spent 2012-16 with Detroit and appeared in 77 games while starting 69 for the Lions. Reiff was a first-round pick (No. 23 overall) in 2012.

Lions Special Teams Coordinator Joe Marciano served as a special teams consultant for the Vikings during the early part of the 2014 season.

LOCAL CONNECTIONS

The Vikings roster features two Michigan natives — C Joe Berger (Newaygo), LB Eric Wilson (Redford) — and three players who attended college in Michigan — Berger (Michigan Tech), LB Ben Gedeon (Michigan) and CB Trae Waynes (Michigan State).

Lions RB Zach Zenner hails from Eagan, Minnesota, and attended Eagan HS before going to South Dakota State in Brookings. As a high school senior, Zenner was named to the Minnesota Vikings All-State HS Football Team.

Lions Regional Scout Mark Olson had a stint with the Vikings and graduated with his master's degree in sport management from the University of Minnesota in 1997.

COLLEGE CONNECTIONS

Vikings LB Eric Wilson and Lions RB Tion Green were teammates at Cincinnati from 2013-16. Both Wilson and Green earned roster spots after going undrafted in the 2017 NFL Draft.

Vikings WR Jarius Wright played at Arkansas with Lions C Travis Swanson from 2010-11.

Six players from the Vikings and Lions attended Notre Dame: Vikings S Harrison Smith (2007-11), Vikings TE Kyle Rudolph (2008-10), Vikings WR Michael Floyd (2008-11), Lions WR T.J. Jones (2010-13), Lions RB Theo Riddick (2009-12) and Lions WR Golden Tate (2007-08).

Vikings G Jeremiah Sirles blocked for Lions RB Ameer Abdullah while at Nebraska from 2011-13.

BIG DAYS

WR Stefon Diggs caught his first career touchdown at Detroit (10/25/15) and caught six passes for 108 yards in the Vikings 28-19 win over the Lions. Diggs earned Pepsi Rookie of the Week honors. Diggs also set a career high with 13 catches for 80 yards in vs. Detroit (11/6) last season.

TE Kyle Rudolph has touchdowns in three of the past five games against the Lions.

CB Terence Newman recorded his lone career punt return touchdown vs. Detroit (12/31/06) on a 56-yard return as a member of the Cowboys.

CB Marcus Sherels returned a punt 77 yards for a touchdown in the Vikings 20-13 win over the Lions on 9/30/12. The Vikings also scored a kickoff return touchdown in the game, marking the third time in team history of scoring on a PR and KR in the same game.

WR Adam Thielen totaled 17 catches for 180 yards in the three contests against the Lions.

LB Eric Kendricks had his first career game with multiple sacks (2.0) at Detroit (10/25/15). Kendricks went on to finish as the NFC Defensive Rookie of the Month for October 2015.

Stefon Diggs: 2 games, 24 receptions, 286 yards, 1 TD

Everson Griffen: 13 games, 33 tackles, 9.5 sacks, 12 TFL, 2 PD, 18 QB hits

Case Keenum: 3 games, 57/84 (67.9%), 664 yards, 3 TDs, 2 INTs, 93.6 rating

Eric Kendricks: 4 games, 21 tackles, 3.0 sacks, 6 TFL, 5 QB hits

Kyle Rudolph: 10 games, 41 receptions, 346 yards, 4 TDs

SERIES INFO

Record vs. Lions Vikings 71-39-2

Last regular season game Lions 14, Vikings 7 (2017)

Vikings largest winning margin 34; Vikings 34, Lions 0 (1980)

Lions largest winning margin 38; Lions 45, Vikings 7 (1981)

Current series streak Lions, 3

Vikings longest win streak 13 (1968-74)

Lions longest win streak 5(1961-63)

Most Points, Vikings 44 (1988)

Most Points, Lions 45 Twice (1978 & 1981)

Most Points, both teams 82; Lions 44, Vikings 38 (1995)

Fewest Points, Vikings 2; Lions 13, Vikings 2 (1983)

Fewest Points, Lions 0, 4 Times; (1969, 1980, 1988, 1993)

Fewest Points, both teams 13 Twice; (1974, 1993)

SERIES NOTES

The Vikings are 71-39-2 all-time against the Lions, including a mark of 32-23-1 record on the road.

The Vikings are 2-2 vs. the Lions on Thanksgiving. Minnesota is looking to get its first Thanksgiving victory since winning 27-15 at Dallas (11/23/00).

The Vikings hosted the New York Giants at Ford Field on 12/13/2010 after a blizzard collapsed the roof of the HHH Metrodome. Minnesota fell to New York by a score of 21-3.

In 1985, Vikings LB Scott Studwell established a team-record 24 total tackles in a 41-21 Vikings loss in Detroit.

A WIN WOULD...

Be the best start to a season through 11 games since Mike Zimmer took over in 2014 and be the best start for the franchise since starting 10-1 in 2009.

Move Zimmer's record as a head coach to 35-25 and give him his third win against the Lions in his seventh game vs. the franchise.

Would be seventh straight win for the Vikings, the second-longest streak win streak for the team under Zimmer (eight regular-season games from 12/20/15-10/9/16

Be the Vikings first victory at Ford Field since beating the Lions 28-19 on Oct. 25, 2015.

All stats in this article are listed are as of Monday, Nov 20th.

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