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Vikings vs. Lions Week 16 Game Preview

EAGAN, Minn. — The Vikings still have a shot to repeat as NFC North Champions, but the first step is defeating the Lions this Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium.

Minnesota (7-7) needs to win out and have Detroit (10-4) lose out, or the Lions will win their first division title since 1993. The game also is of utmost importance to NFC Wild Card implications with three regular-season games remaining.

The game features a plethora of stars. Minnesota's Justin Jefferson and Detroit's Amon-Ra St. Brown are two of the best receivers in the NFL. Rookies Jordan Addison (nine with Vikings) and Jahmyr Gibbs and Sam LaPorta (eight and nine with Lions, respectively) have combined for 26 touchdowns. Edge rushers Danielle Hunter and Aidan Hutchinson are each in the top six in quarterback pressures.

Kickoff is set for noon (CT).

Vikings Uniform

The Vikings will wear their Winter Whiteout uniform for the second time in franchise history. Introduced exactly one year before Sunday's game, the Winter Whiteout uniform features white jerseys and white pants.

4 Storylines

1. NFC North at stake: Minnesota enters Week 16 as the No. 6 seed in the NFC. The Lions can clinch their first division title since winning the NFC Central in 1993 (second-longest active division title drought in NFL) with a win or tie Sunday.

It's been 30 years (29 seasons) since the Lions last won a division title. Only four players on the Lions 53-man roster were alive then, and Head Coach Dan Campbell was a 17-year-old high school student.

The Lions have two ways of clinching a playoff berth, even with a loss. If the Saints defeat the Rams on Thursday Night Football, or if the Titans defeat the Seahawks, Detroit will be postseason bound.

2. Vikings staff familiar with QB Jared Goff: Lions quarterback Jared Goff is having a top-10 season. He ranks third in quarterback wins (10), seventh in completion percentage (67.1), third in passing yards (3,727), third in passing touchdowns (26) and sixth in passer rating.

The Vikings coaching staff is uniquely familiar with the Lions signal caller. Goff's last year as the Rams quarterback was Head Coach Kevin O'Connell's first year as the team's offensive coordinator. Goff was traded to Detroit the following season, and O'Connell won a Super Bowl with Los Angeles, Head Coach Sean McVay, and quarterback Matthew Stafford.

Goff is 0-2 with one touchdown pass and three interceptions in two career starts versus Defensive Coordinator Brian Flores. Flores held the same position with the Patriots when New England beat the Rams and Goff in Super Bowl LIII. Flores was the Dolphins head coach (and defensive play-caller) in 2020 when Miami won 28-17 in Week 8.

Goff has a 61.9 passer rating and five total giveaways in those two games.

3. Facing Lions twice in three weeks: The Vikings have three games left, all against NFC North opponents. Two of those games are against the Lions this week and in Week 18.

For the Vikings to win the NFC North, Minnesota must defeat the Lions twice and the Packers next week, and the Lions *must lose at Dallas in Week 17.

Minnesota has won five straight home games against the Lions.

4. Rookie Showcase: The Vikings and Lions feature impressive rookies. Addison, Gibbs, LaPorta and Vikings linebacker Ivan Pace, Jr., have played critical roles for their respective squads.

Pace was the Week 14 NFC Defensive Player of the Week. Addison, Gibbs and LaPorta are offensive weapons that generate highlight plays. That trio accounts for three of the five NFL rookies with eight or more scrimmage touchdowns this season.

Addison's nine receiving touchdowns lead the Vikings and are tied for fourth-most with LaPorta (among all players).

With one more scrimmage touchdown by Gibbs, the Lions will become the first team in NFL history to have multiple rookies with nine or more scores. Detroit is the first team to have two rookies with eight or more touchdowns since the Saints Reggie Bush and Marques Colston.

View photos of Vikings players posing in their white uniforms ahead of the Winter Whiteout game against the Lions on Dec. 24.

3 Things 'Bout the Lions

1. Defending St. Brown: The Vikings are preparing for one of the most productive receivers in football. St. Brown leads the Lions with 94 receptions, 1,175 yards and seven touchdowns.

The third-year receiver is one of three players in league history with 90-plus catches in each of his first three seasons, joining Michael Thomas and Odell Beckham, Jr.

St. Brown needs just 10 receptions to join Jefferson (324), Thomas (321) and Christian McCaffrey (303) as the only players in NFL history with 300-plus grabs over their first three seasons.

Brown has had six or more catches but fewer than 90 receiving yards in each of his four previous games against Minnesota.

2. The young pass rush: In just his second pro season, Hutchinson is already an established game wrecker. According to Pro Football Focus, he ranks tied for first in hurries, third in total pressures and fourth in quarterback hits this season.

He also is tied for second among all NFL defensive linemen with six passes defended.

"Hutchinson is one of the premier rushers in football," O'Connell said. "He's electric, [and brings] energy every single play. You gotta have an awareness for him. And he just keeps on getting better and better."

3. David Montgomery's ground-and-pound style: While Gibbs' 1,088 scrimmage yards leads the Lions, fellow running back David Montgomery also ranks in the top 10 in scrimmage yards per game, rushing yards per game and total touchdowns. *

*The one-two punch of Montgomery and Gibbs has helped the Lions average 140.9 rushing yards per game, second-most behind only the Ravens. That mark is Detroit's highest rushing yards per game average since 1997 when Barry Sanders was an AP NFL Co-MVP and won the rushing title with 2,053 yards.

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

2 Trends

Featuring Ty Chandler

Second-year running back Ty Chandler made the most of his first career start last week. Coming off a career-high 132 rushing yards last week against the Bengals, Chandler notched the Vikings first 100-yard rushing game by an individual in more than a calendar year.

O'Connell said running back Alexander Mattison is working back from a Week 14 ankle injury. But O'Connell clarified that Chandler will continue to receive opportunities, regardless of Mattison's status.

"Ty [Chandler] is coming off a great performance and feeling more and more confidence," O'Connell said. "We're kind of building the mindset that Ty's gonna be the guy we're trying to get involved a lot both in the run and pass."

View photos of the Vikings 53-man roster as of Jan. 7, 2024.

Jameson Williams being targeted more

Jameson Williams, the 12th overall pick of the 2022 NFL Draft, is coming off career highs of four receptions on seven targets (for 47 yards) last week against Denver.

Williams entered the league on the Reserve/Non-Football Injury list due to a torn ACL suffered in the 2022 College Football National Championship.

His lone catch of his rookie season was a 41-yard touchdown versus Minnesota in Week 14 last year. Williams served a four-game suspension this season for violating the NFL's gambling policy. Since his Week 5 return, he's caught 17 passes for 242 yards and two touchdowns.

1 Talking Point

"It's all about beating the Lions. The playoffs are awesome, but if you don't win, then the playoffs don't matter. You've got to beat the Lions, and I think the guys are excited about that. We've got the Whiteout at home, so there's a lot to be excited about. We have a great defense, move the ball on offense, we know we can do it, so now it's putting it all together [with] an awesome home crowd in the Whiteout game."

— Nick Mullens on facing the Lions at home


Vikings tight end T.J. Hockenson and receiver Brandon Powell are former Lions. Minnesota running backs coach/run game coordinator Curtis Modkins was with Detroit from 2013-15.

Lions quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was with the Vikings from 2014-17, and offensive line coach Hank Fraley was a Vikings assistant from 2014-16.

College and Pro Connections


Series History

The Vikings are 80-41-2 all-time in 123 games against the Lions.