Minnesota shook up their coaching staff before last week’s game, determined to return to its run-first offense and a defense that can win games.
Mission accomplished. The Vikings blew out the Green Bay Packers 41-16 in front of their relieved home fans. The win keeps control of the second wild-card position in the Vikings’ hands, as they defend a half-game lead over the Redskins and Eagles, who upset the Rams to remind everyone they are the defending champions.
Minnesota also finds themselves just a game out of the first wild-card spot after the Seahawks surprising loss to the 49ers. Seattle faces the Kansas City Chiefs this week.
Dalvin Cook and Latavius Murray ran the ball effectively against Green Bay, which opened things up for Kirk Cousins and the passing game. The defense was solid in what looked like the Vikings team of 2017. It wasn’t perfect, but it was enough of a change from earlier this season to make Mike Zimmer smile.
Detroit ventured out of their temperature-controlled dome to play a game in the harsh cold of Buffalo. Matthew Stafford put the team ahead quickly with a touchdown pass before succumbing to exposure- more to the Bills defense than the cold.
Without Kerryon Johnson for another game, the Lions could not run the ball. With several of their receiving weapons out of the game, they couldn’t pass much, either. The defense took advantage of a Bills offense full of youngsters in the passing game and forced to use their fourth-string rusher most of the game to keep it close.
Injuries and notes:
Neither team lists any new injuries this week. Kerryon Johnson is still questionable with a knee injury. Detroit has little reason to rush the rookie back into the lineup.
Matt Patricia is used to cold sidelines, but he has to toughen up his troops if they are going to make noise in future seasons in places like Green Bay and Chicago. Patricia’s rookie season didn’t go as well as hoped, but there is no panic as he is still collecting and molding a competitive team for Detroit.
Mike Zimmer is probably wondering why he didn’t fire his offensive coordinator earlier in the season. But he still has control of his playoff destiny and he could find some room for flexibility if things fall right in Week 16.
How to watch the Lions-Vikings game
Fox Sports will produce and broadcast this game, which means you could watch for free on DirecTV Now.
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Read More: NFL Week 17 Game Preview: Bears at Vikings
Who will win the Lions-Vikings game?
Playing in Ford Stadium is a far cry from the cold of Buffalo or the cheerful home crowds of Minnesota. Matt Stafford is missing some weapons but there is a reason he was the highest-paid quarterback before Cousins signed with the Vikings.
But the Vikings seem energized after their offensive coordinator took the fall for their earlier struggles, plus they have a playoff dream to chase.
Final score: Vikings 31, Lions 21