The finish line for the 2020 Vikings and Lions isn't located where either team would have hoped, but it is just around the corner.
Minnesota (6-9) will visit Detroit (5-10) Sunday and wrap an unprecedented season altered dramatically by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Week 17 game won't affect division rankings, but it could affect draft order.
Matthew Coller of Purple Insider believes the contest will offer a unique combination of "finality, uncertainty and optimism."
The final game of the year for the Vikings brings with it the desire for this roller-coaster season to end on a kinder note than last week's 52-33 loss to the New Orleans Saints.
"I do think that's important that we understand that wasn't the game that you want to be remembered with," Head Coach Mike Zimmer said. "Let's go out and let's try to remember something good."
It's probably illogical to judge anything based on Vikings-Lions considering the loser actually benefits more than the winner because of draft status. But a four-game losing streak would also leave a sour taste after the narrative of the team coming together after the bye was spun over the middle portion of the season.
Look back at photos over the course of time featuring games between the Vikings and the Lions.
It's been a down, then up, then down year for the Vikings. Minnesota opened 1-5 but climbed back into playoff contention by winning five of six. The Vikings have dropped three in a row, though, as injuries on defense have mounted after an overtime victory against the 1-14 Jaguars.
For the final few hours of the season, we get one last look at a team that was strong enough to compete with good teams like Tennessee, Seattle and Green Bay and flawed enough to come apart at the seams against Atlanta, Chicago, Tampa Bay and New Orleans.
Jefferson & Cook Among NFL.com's Elite Offensive Players
Justin Jefferson has a chance to surpass elite company with a strong season finale against the Lions.
He needs 47 yards to break Randy Moss' Vikings rookie record and 111 to top Anquan Boldin's NFL record.
Jefferson, the 22nd overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, has six games with 100-plus yards in 2020. That is a new Vikings rookie record, surpassing the four by Moss back in 1998.
NFL Media analyst David Carr ranked Jefferson 15th among offensive players in the NFL after a solid game against the Saints.
Marshon Lattimore played the Offensive Rookie of the Year candidate tough in New Orleans' Christmas Day win, but the Vikings' new star found ways to chip away (six catches, 85 yards) at a league record. Jefferson needs 111 receiving yards next week to beat Anquan Boldin's top rookie mark of 1,377 receiving yards.
Justin Jefferson totaled 85 yards on six catches against New Orleans. He now leads the Vikings with 79 catches for 1,267 yards and has seven scores.
Carr ranked Vikings running back Dalvin Cook at No. 8 in his weekly list. Cook will be unavailable Sunday as he copes with the death of his father, James Cook.
Al Noga selected to Polynesian Football Hall of Fame
Former Vikings defensive lineman Al Noga was recently announced as one of three members of the Class of 2021 for the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame.
The announcement was made Monday by the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame.
Noga, who was born in American Samoa, was a third-round pick by the Vikings in 1988.
He played five seasons in Purple from 1988-92, racking up 29.5 sacks with three fumble recoveries. Noga scored two defensive touchdowns in 1990, including a 26-yard interception return for a score.
Noga also played for Washington and Indianapolis in his seven-season NFL career, finishing with 34.5 career sacks.
Noga was a standout at the University of Hawaii before going to the NFL. He was a First-Team All-American and was an Outland Trophy finalist in his final season at Hawaii.
"On behalf of our Board of Directors, we congratulate the Class of 2021," said Jesse Sapolu, Polynesian Football Hall of Fame Chairman, Co-Founder and Inductee. "We look forward to celebrating their induction into the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame next year."
The Class of 2021 will be honored during the 2022 Polynesian Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Weekend on Jan. 21-22, 2022.
Noga's brother, Niko, is also a member of the Class of 2021, along with Charlie Wedemeyer. Niko Noga also played at the University of Hawaii before an 8-year career in the NFL with the Lions and Cardinals.