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5 Vikings-Lions Storylines to Watch

The Vikings are 8-4 with four games remaining and will jump back into NFC North play this weekend.

Minnesota will host Detroit on Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium. Kickoff is at noon (CT).

The Vikings are in second place in the division behind the Packers (9-3). The Lions are in last place in the NFC North at 3-8-1.

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

Here are five Vikings-Lions storylines to watch.

1. Finally … a home division game

It's December, and there is only one team in the NFL has yet to play a division game at home.

You guessed it. The Vikings have been road warriors with just five home games — and five home wins — so far in 2019.

Minnesota will get its first crack at an NFC North foe at home in Detroit in Week 14, and will then see Green Bay on Monday Night Football in Week 16 before the (seemingly annual) regular-season finale against Chicago.

The Vikings are one of two teams that are undefeated at home, as New England is also 5-0. Minnesota has fared well against division opponents of late, going 6-3 at U.S. Bank Stadium against the Bears, Lions and Packers since the venue opened in 2016.

Detroit is 2-1 at U.S. Bank Stadium over the past three seasons.

2. Who is David Blough?

Ever since he was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, Matthew Stafford has been a mainstay at quarterback for the Lions. He has 19 career starts against Minnesota (second among current quarterbacks behind only Aaron Rodgers), going 8-11 in that span. Stafford has thrown for 4,672 yards with 27 touchdowns and eight interceptions in those games.

But Stafford is currently dealing with a back injury and won't play. And Lions backup Jeff Driskell is on Injured Reserve with a hamstring injury.

Say hello to David Blough, a rookie who made his NFL debut on Thanksgiving in a loss to Chicago.

Blough completed 22 of 38 passes (57.9 percent) for 280 yards with two touchdowns and an interception for a passer rating of 83.5.

He played collegiately at Purdue and spent the 2019 offseason with Cleveland. Blough was traded to Detroit in August.

There isn't much NFL film on Blough, but perhaps Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer will have a few wrinkles for the fresh-faced quarterback.

It will mark the second consecutive game in which a quarterback is making his second NFL start against the Vikings in Minnesota (Brandon Allen did so with Denver). The NFL newcomer will be backed up by former Viking Kyle Sloter, who signed with Detroit on Saturday.

View photos of the Vikings 53-man roster for the 2019 season.

3. Watch out for the deep shots

Blough was solid in his NFL debut, was showed he wasn't afraid to take chances, as he hit on a 75-yard touchdown pass on his second throw of his career.

The rookie found Kenny Golladay down the left sideline for a sudden strike, as the Lions wide receiver showed his big-play potential. Golladay had four total catches against the Bears that went for 20 yards or more.

Golladay averages an impressive 16.7 yards per catch, while Marvin Jones, Jr. averages 12.3 yards per reception. Both players have nine touchdowns.

The Vikings have struggled against the deep ball all season and allowed a 60-yard touchdown pass against Seattle on Monday night.

Minnesota's defense has now allowed 42 passing plays of at least 20 yards in 2019. Minnesota allowed 43 such plays in the entire 2018 season, 35 such plays in 2017 and 41 such plays in 2016.

4. The health of the offense

Adam Thielen did not play against the Seahawks, as the Vikings wide receiver has now essentially missed five games with a hamstring injury that occurred in the first quarter of Minnesota's Week 7 win in Detroit.

Thielen said last week that he wasn't going to play unless he was 100 percent, and was then downgraded to out over the weekend.

The Vikings also lost two starters Monday night, as running back Dalvin Cook was injured a few minutes into the third quarter. Left tackle Riley Reiff did not play in the second half due a concussion.

We'll know more this week about the status of all three players as the Vikings get to work on the practice field. But if the trio can't go — it will be up to running back Alexander Mattison, receivers Bisi Johnson and Laquon Treadwell and tackle Rashod Hill to help pick up the slack.

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5. Watching the NFC playoff picture

The Vikings division title hopes were dealt a blow with Monday's loss to Seattle, as Minnesota now trails Green Bay by a game in the standings in the NFC North.

But there is still plenty to play for over the final month of the season, especially with playoff seedings still up for grabs in the NFC.

The Bears host the Cowboys on Thursday Night Football, while Green Bay hosts Washington in Week 14. A pair of 10-2 teams square off when New Orleans hosts San Francisco. The Rams host the Seahawks on Sunday Night Football.

The Vikings are still alive for a division title but need some help. Minnesota can control its status as a Wild Card team.

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