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5 Vikings-Lions Storylines to Watch in Week 9

The Vikings (2-5) are scheduled to host the Lions (3-4) in the 118th overall meeting between the teams on Sunday.

Minnesota is still seeking its first home win of 2020 at U.S. Bank Stadium after falling to 0-3 at the normally friendly confines in Week 6. The Vikings are trying to build momentum off Sunday's 28-22 upset of the Packers in Green Bay.

Detroit lost at Indianapolis in Week 8 after defeating Jacksonville and Atlanta in the two games after its Week 5 bye.

Here are five storylines to watch this week, as well as a link below to the game preview by the Vikings PR staff and a list of connections between the teams.

1. Reunion Tour

The Lions added former Vikings Adrian Peterson and Jayron Kearse this offseason and recently traded to acquire Everson Griffen after his short stint with the Cowboys.

This will be Peterson's third time of playing the Vikings (2017 season opener with New Orleans, 2019 with Washington) and the first time for Kearse and Griffen to leave the visitors' locker room.

Kearse has been a reserve for Detroit, and Griffen is expected to make his Lions debut. Griffen recorded 2.5 sacks for Dallas in seven games.

How much will a thin defensive line group (six players on their unofficial depth chart as of Wednesday morning) incorporate the newcomer who recorded 74.5 sacks for Minnesota from 2010-19? Will Griffen line up the most against former Lions tackle Riley Reiff or Brian O'Neill? How will Minnesota try to keep the "Sack Daddy" from dancing?

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

2. Who's back at cornerback?

Did someone mention a position group that's short-handed?

The Vikings revolving door at cornerback continued last week. Cameron Dantzler suffered a scary neck injury on his 14th snap Sunday but received a good report after the game. Head Coach Mike Zimmer said Monday the third-round pick may be able to return to the lineup as early as this week.

Zimmer and his staff were able to guide players with limited experience down the stretch to secure the win. Dantzler and 2020 first-round pick Jeff Gladney are listed atop Minnesota's unofficial depth chart.

Mike Hughes was placed on Injured Reserve last Friday, and Holton Hill did not play because of a foot injury. Kris Boyd was dealing with hamstring and back injuries last week but played 57 snaps. He and Mark Fields II (21 snaps) left the game with injuries.

Gladney has been playing inside and outside. Injuries shifted his focus to the outside, and prompted Zimmer to move safety Anthony Harris to nickel with rookie Josh Metellus coming into the game at safety.

The first injury report of the week will be released later today.

3. Another prolific passer

The Vikings will face yet another prolific passer in Matthew Stafford, who ranks 18th all-time in passing yards (42,941) and touchdowns (269). The yardage total is seventh among active players, interestingly behind the past two QBs the Vikings have faced. Matt Ryan (53,648) and Aaron Rodgers (48,894) rank fifth and sixth, respectively, among active quarterbacks.

Minnesota has a total of eight games against the top seven active players on the passing yards leaderboard this season. Four down (Aaron Rodgers twice, Philip Rivers and Ryan), and four to go (Stafford twice, Tom Brady and Drew Brees).

View photos of the Vikings 53-man roster as of November 25, 2020.

4. Packing more pressure?

Creating pressure on Stafford could help the back end of the defense. The Vikings have sacked the QB more than any other team in the NFL, recording 65 sacks in 19 games.

Stafford has been sacked 366 times in 156 starts, including five last week by the Colts in Indianapolis.

Without the assist of crowd noise, Minnesota has struggled to affect opponents at home games. The calm and controlled environment has allowed passers to be more comfortable than in previous seasons at U.S. Bank Stadium.

Minnesota will not have the services of any of the players responsible for the single-game record of 10 sacks against Detroit on Nov. 4, 2018, but Zimmer recently reminded that a team can create pressure without an abundance of sacks.

5. Find the way to win the day

In conditions that were quite poor for throwing a pigskin, Minnesota relied on its strong run game. Dalvin Cook, who rushed 30 times for 163 yards and three scores, carried the load on the way to winning NFC Offensive Player of the Week honors.

Minnesota only asked for short, safe passes by Kirk Cousins, who did exactly that without a flaw. He was 11-for-14 passing with 160 yards, a score on a screen pass to Cook and no turnovers. Cousins didn't attempt a pass 10 yards beyond the line of scrimmage, but he didn't need to because the Vikings kept the game on their terms. That's not to say that Cousins will stop throwing the deep ball in better conditions.

The Vikings have been one of the best running teams per play consistently this season. Avoiding a two-score deficit in the first half allowed them to seize control with the best way to win last week. The best path against the Lions might be different.

Local Connections

Vikings LB Eric Wilson (Redford), TE Tyler Conklin (Chesterfield) and return specialist K.J. Osborn (Ypsilanti) are Michigan natives.

Minnesota QB Kirk Cousins grew up in Holland, Michigan, before playing collegiately at Michigan State.

Lions C Frank Ragnow is from Victoria, Minnesota, and starred at Chanhassen High School.

Detroit assistant special teams coach Marquice Williams started his coaching career at Winona State in 2010.

Vikings-Lions Connections

Minnesota T Riley Reiff was selected by Detroit in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft. He started 69 of the 77 games he played for the Lions and joined the Vikings in 2017.

Vikings RB Ameer Abdullah was drafted by the Lions in the second round of the 2015 NFL Draft. He played in 35 games for Detroit before joining Minnesota in November 2018.

Minnesota CB Chris Jones played for Detroit in Week 3 earlier this season.

Lions RB Adrian Peterson is the Vikings franchise leader in numerous records, including career rushing yards (11,747) and touchdowns (97).

Detroit DE Everson Griffen recorded 74.5 sacks in 10 seasons (2010-19) with Minnesota.

Lions S Jayron Kearse was drafted by the Vikings in the seventh round of the 2016 NFL Draft and played in 62 games for Minnesota from 2016-19.

Lions CB Justin Coleman spent the 2015 offseason with the Vikings after signing as an undrafted free agent.

Detroit Offensive Coordinator Darrell Bevell (2006-10) and assistant strength and conditioning coach Tom Kanavy (2006-13) held the same role with Minnesota.

Lions offensive line coach Hank Fraley was the assistant offensive line coach for the Vikings from 2014-16, overlapping with Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer, Co-Defensive Coordinators Andre Patterson and Adam Zimmer, assistant special teams coach Ryan Ficken, receivers coach Andrew Janocko, quarterbacks coach Klint Kubiak and assistant strength and conditioning coach Chaz Mahle.

Professional Connections

Vikings C Brett Jones and Lions DE Romeo Okwara teamed together on the Giants from 2016-17.

Minnesota DT Shamar Stephen and Detroit CB Justin Coleman were teammates in Seattle in 2018.

Vikings Special Teams Coordinator Marwan Maalouf worked with Lions Defensive Coordinator Cory Undlin with the Browns and with Lions tight ends coach Ben Johnson with the Dolphins. Undlin, who was born in St. Cloud, Minnesota, overlapped with Vikings running backs coach Kennedy Polamalu in Jacksonville. Johnson worked with Minnesota defensive backs coach Daronte Jones with the Dolphins.

Lions Special Teams Coordinator Brayden Coombs and running backs coach Kyle Caskey worked with Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer, Co-Defensive Coordinator Adam Zimmer and Jones in Cincinnati. Detroit receiver Marvin Jones, Jr., played for Cincinnati when Mike Zimmer and Adam Zimmer were with the Bengals.

Detroit receivers coach Robert Prince worked with Polamalu and Mahle in Jacksonville.

Lions defensive line coach Bo Davis worked with Vikings assistant defensive backs coach Roy Anderson at LSU and senior defensive assistant Dom Capers with the Dolphins.

College Connections

Vikings S Anthony Harris and Lions OL Oday Aboushi at Virginia

Minnesota WR Dan Chisena at Penn State with Detroit LB Jason Cabinda and CB Amani Oruwariye

Vikings LB Ryan Connelly and Lions WR Quintez Cephus at Wisconsin

Minnesota LB Troy Dye and Detroit T Tyrell Crosby at Oregon

Vikings RG Pat Elflein and DE Jalyn Holmes at Ohio State with Lions T Taylor Decker; Holmes with Lions CB Jeff Okudah for one season

Minnesota WR Chad Beebe and Detroit WR Kenny Golladay at Northern Illinois

Vikings TE Irv Smith, Jr., and Lions DT Da'Shawn Hand at Alabama

Minnesota DT Armon Watts and Detroit C Frank Ragnow at Arkansas

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