EAGAN, Minn. – The Vikings are set to conclude the 60th season in franchise history by visiting the Detroit Lions at noon (CT) Sunday.
Minnesota is 77-39-2 all-time in the series, including 35-23-1 in 59 road games, and has claimed the past six contests.
Former Vikings Offensive Coordinator Darrell Bevell (2006-10) is serving as interim head coach of the Lions. He took over for Matt Patricia on Nov. 28 and led Detroit to a 34-30 win over Chicago on Dec. 6. Bevell and other members of his staff were unable to coach last Sunday because of COVID-19 protocols.
The Vikings (6-9) and Lions (5-10) are both trying to snap three-game losing streaks and end the season on a high note.
FOX (KMSP FOX 9 in the Twin Cities)
Kickoff: Noon (CT)
Play-by-Play: Joe Davis
Analyst: Robert Smith
Sideline: Kristina Pink
Fans who live in the green areas shown on the map from 506sports.com will be able to watch the game on their iOS mobile devices with the VIKINGS APP or VIKINGS MOBILE SITE (Safari browser only).
KFAN 100.3-FM and KTLK 1130-AM
Play-by-Play: Paul Allen
Analyst: Pete Bercich
Sideline Reporters: Greg Coleman & Ben Leber
Pregame Show: 10 a.m. (CT) with Mike Mussman
KFAN and KTLK are the flagship stations for the five-state Vikings Radio Network.
Minnesota: Sirius 132 and XM 384
Detroit: Sirius 135 and XM 229
Click here for the full bevy of options that include over-the-air, cable, satellite, over-the-top and streaming methods.
Look back at photos over the course of time featuring games between the Vikings and the Lions.
VIKINGS POSTGAME LIVE
Because of the holiday, Vikings Postgame Live, presented by Mystic Lake will air after the game. The show will feature expert analysis, highlights, Next Gen Stats and postgame sound from Head Coach Mike Zimmer.
COORDINATORS ON THE OFFENSE, DEFENSE & SPECIAL TEAMS
Below are takeaways from Thursday's media sessions with Offensive Coordinator Gary Kubiak, Co-Defensive Coordinators Andre Patterson and Adam Zimmer, and Special Teams Coordinator Marwan Maalouf.
Kubiak on sacks and the blame game
Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins has faced plenty of pressure throughout the season, especially early in the campaign and again over the past five games. Entering Week 17, Cousins has been sacked 36 times. His career high is 41 in 2017, which was his final season in Washington.
Kubiak was asked about Cousins' ability to handle pressure this season as well as who shares responsibility for the sacks and quarterback hits that occur.
"It's easy — anytime something negative happens — 'Well, where does the blame go?' Everyone looks at the offensive line," Kubiak said. "But there's so many things involved in sacks. Maybe we could have gotten the ball out quicker? Maybe we ran a poor route and couldn't get the ball out? So, you try to break them down and evaluate them. That's a stat where we can definitely improve, as … an offensive football team.
"But I do think Kirk did improve this year as far as making a lot of plays with his feet, finding ways to keep us on the field on third downs. We've been a pretty good third-down team since the bye week," Kubiak continued. "But we'll sit down and look at it and break them all down. If [the sacks] belong to Kirk, he's got to own them. If they belong to the guys up front, they've got to own them. Sometimes they belong to me, I call a play or I have him holding the ball. Those things all go together. The less you have, usually you're a better football team."
Patterson on approach to Week 17
Minnesota's final game of the 2020 season doesn't hold much weight, as the Vikings and Lions are eliminated from the postseason. But the team nonetheless hopes to end a challenging campaign with a positive, and the defense has an opportunity to bounce back from an abysmal outing at New Orleans.
Patterson said it's not hard to motivate players in the absence of playoffs. Rather, he focuses on coaching them the same this week as any other week and is very "matter-of-fact" about what went wrong against the Saints.
"I think when you're honest with them and they're able to see what the issues were and why they happened, then it's easier for them to rally back and start to focus on the next opponent and then make sure those things don't occur again," Patterson said. "I haven't felt this week in practice that it's been any different. The last two days, they've ran around, they've had high energy. It's not like it's the last practice and we're just trying to get through. I haven't felt that at all. I think it just comes from going in there and telling them the truth and letting them see where the issues occurred and what we have to do to make sure those things don't happen."
Zimmer on the progress of Dantzler and Gladney
The Vikings drafted cornerbacks Jeff Gladney and Cam Dantzler in the first and third rounds of the 2020 NFL Draft, and the pair of rookies were almost immediately looked to as major contributors on defense.
They both experienced growing pains, but (especially considering the drastically altered offseason and cancelation of the preseason), Zimmer is pleased with their progress over 15 games.
"I think if you look back to Week 1 or the beginning of training camp, those guys have grown a lot," Zimmer said. "They've gotten a lot of opportunities. I think I heard the other day Gladney has played as much as any rookie DB in the league, or close to it. You see the growth of him and the more confidence in the scheme and the communication and just the better feel for playing the nickel position.
"The same thing with Cam. He's come in and played with more confidence over the last few weeks, and I think those guys can hopefully continue to get better and continue to improve in all areas," Zimmer added. "They're not anywhere where they need to be yet, and they shouldn't be – they're still rookies. But I like their progress, I like the direction they're heading, and hopefully we can continue to develop that as we move forward."
Maalouf on experience for young players
Minnesota's coverage and return units on special teams have had to rely heavily on young, inexperienced players throughout the season, and the unit has experienced growing pains.
Although the coaching staff hasn't yet gotten to its evaluation stage yet, Maalouf acknowledged that there's some level of benefit, heading into 2021, to youngsters having been thrown in the fire.
"Our guys, including myself, right now are obviously focused on the Detroit Lions. I mean, they have a very good special teams unit," Maalouf emphasized. "But that being said, there is a positive outlook for next year, for sure. There's a lot of guys who have gotten a lot of reps. A lot of young guys that have gotten a lot of reps. You would have hoped that they would have gotten the majority of them in the preseason, but 2020 as it is, it wasn't the case."
He added that players have been – and continue to be – "battle-tested" by tough circumstances.
"Guys like Harrison Hand, who's improving every week. We've got Blake Lynch out there. We've got Troy Dye. And a ton of rookies – Josh Metellus; D.J. Wonnum has contributed on our block phases; and Dan Chisena," Maalouf said. "There's a lot of guys. And I'm probably missing another five or six, at least, that have played on special teams. The outlook from that perspective is definitely positive. And that's something we'll probably revisit in a week or two when we talk about the roster. It's definitely a good thing."