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Lunchbreak: Potential X Factors for Vikings-Lions Game

After the Packers defeated the Bears on Thursday Night Football, eyes will turn to the other NFC North matchup of the weekend.

The Vikings and Lions will square off at U.S. Bank Stadium at noon (CT) on Sunday, both hoping to move to 3-1 on the season.

Mark Craig of the *Star Tribune *believes that Minnesota holds the upper hand. In his weekly predictions, Craig picked the Vikings to win by a margin of three. He wrote:

*[Lions tackle Greg Robison] struggled in key moments at home last week. U.S. Bank Stadium will make things a whole lot worse. Detroit's run defense was awful against Atlanta, giving up 5.4 yards per carry. Devonta Freeman had 106 yards on 21 carries (5.0) and would have gashed Detroit for a lot more if not for penalties. *

Craig delved into Detroit's three interceptions of Matt Ryan and that helped keep the game as close as it was before Atlanta ultimately walking away with the four-point victory.  If the Vikings can start clicking early, Craig predicted them to take home a second consecutive win with Case Keenum in the huddle.

The Vikings should be able to get Dalvin Cook going, stop Detroit's alleged new running game and pressure [Lions QB Matthew] Stafford. Go with the home team, although the Vikings would be wise not to make it a close game with Stafford and kicker Matt Prater, who made field goals of 58 and 57 yards last week.

C.J. Ham opens up options on offense

After signing C.J. Ham as an undrafted rookie in 2016, during which he spent a majority if the season on Minnesota's practice squad, the Vikings this offseason transitioned the former running back to fullback.

Matthew Coller of 1500ESPN.com talked with Ham about his position switch and start to his second NFL season. Coller specifically referenced a play against the Buccaneers during which Ham and Dalvin Cook were both on the field when Case Keenum threw a deep pass to Adam Thielen for a 45-yard gain. Coller wrote:

That's part of Ham's subtle value within the Vikings offense. Opponents react to the presence of a fullback by either adjusting to focus on the run or putting three linebackers in the game, which can create passing mismatches.

"I pretty much just want to do my job every time," Ham told Coller. "Whether that's making a guy miss for 10 yards or picking up a pass protection. Having that running back background does help me a lot when I do get the ball in the open field."

Coller also quoted Vikings Offensive Coordinator Pat Shurmur. He spoke highly of Ham, who scored his first career touchdown on a 1-yard run against the Steelers in Week 2.

"He's not talked about often … when he's in there he does a really, really good job," Shurmur said. "You saw the other day he caught the checkdown and made yards after the catch. We've thrown him a screen pass. He can catch the ball. That's No. 1. It's a huge comfort for a play caller. And obviously he's really good at blocking."

Kyle Rudolph tries his hand at burritos

Kyle Rudolph hasn't kept it a secret that he enjoys dining at Chipotle on a regular basis.

The Vikings tight end tweeted a couple of weeks ago about introducing his twin daughters, Andersyn and Finley, to the restaurant chain that he enjoys.

On Wednesday, Rudolph moved from the table to the kitchen to try his hand at rolling burritos for customers at the Chipotle in Wayzata, his most-frequented location. Emily Cassel of *City Pages *wrote that Rudolph was "working the line to support the St. Paul-based hunger relief organization Second Harvest Heartland."

Minnesota and North Dakota Chipotles donated 50 percent of [Wednesday's] profits to the nonprofit, which provides food access to the hungry with the help of community partners.

Second Harvest's corporate partnership officer Amanda Pieper says the group already had a relationship with the Vikings and with Rudolph, specifically, so the connection just made sense.

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