There are certain games on a schedule that, by their nature, mean more than others. Today’s game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Detroit Lions has that sense of being a critical game for both teams.
For the Lions, whose success, some believe, has been done with smoke and mirrors because they have been behind in the fourth quarter of every game they’ve played this season, a win would cement their lead in the NFC North.
It would put them at a minimum two games ahead of the Green Bay Packers and, for realistic purposes, two games ahead of Minnesota. While the Lions would only technically be one game in front of the Vikings, they would have earned a regular season sweep – meaning that the Vikings would have to finish ahead of Detroit in the standings at season’s end to win the division. Any ties would go to Detroit.
If the Vikings win, their heartbreaking home loss against Detroit would be negated and it would drop Detroit to 1-3 in the division, giving the Vikings not only a one-game lead in the NFC North, but a current edge in divisional record, which is the second tie-breaker after head-to-head play.
The Lions have made up a ton of ground on the division over the last five games. Detroit has won four of their last five games, while the Vikings, Packers and Bears have gone 1-4 in their last five games.
The Vikings’ four-game losing streak erased all of the advantages they had earned over their 5-0 start to the season. They ended their tailspin Sunday against Arizona. With a win today, they can reclaim the advantages they had banked up over the first five games of the season and put themselves back on track to repeat as NFC North champion.
VIKINGS-LIONS BY THE NUMBERS
- Minnesota has the 32nd-ranked offense in the NFL (32nd rushing, 24th passing) and the third-ranked defense (13th rushing, 3rd passing).
- Detroit has the 25th-ranked offense (30th rushing, 16th passing) and the 19th-ranked defense (18th rushing, 17th passing).
- The Vikings are averaging 294 yards a game on offense (224 passing, 70 rushing). The Lions are averaging 332 yards a game (252 passing, 80 rushing).
- Minnesota is allowing 307 yards a game (206 passing, 101 rushing). Detroit is allowing 358 yards a game (254 passing, 104 rushing).
- The Vikings are tied for first in takeaway/giveaway ratio at plus-13 (20 takeaways, seven giveaways). The Lions is tied for 11th at plus-2 (10 takeaways, eight giveaways).
- Only Kansas City has more takeaways (23) than Minnesota.
- Only Buffalo and Seattle have fewer giveaways (6) than the Vikings.
- Minnesota is 19th in third-down offense, converting first downs on 56 of 140 opportunities (56 of 140). Detroit in ninth at 42.9 percent (51 of 119). The league average is 40.0 percent.
- The Vikings are 15th in third-down defense, allowing conversions on 51 of 132 opportunities (38.6 percent). The Lions are 29th at 46.5 percent (60 of 129.
- Matthew Stafford has two 300-yard passing games. Sam Bradford has one.
- The Vikings haven’t allowed a 300-yard passer. The Lions have allowed four 300-yard passers.
- Minnesota has four 100-yard receiving games – three from Stefon Diggs and one from Adam Thielen. The Lions have three 100-yard receiving games – two from Marvin Jones and one from Golden Tate.
- The Lions have allowed four 100-yard receiving games. The Vikings have allowed none.
- Minnesota is the only team in the league that hasn’t allowed a 100-yard receiver this season.
- Neither Detroit nor Minnesota has a 100-yard rushing game this season.
- Both the Lions and the Vikings have allowed two 100-yard rushing games.
- Stafford is 17th in pass attempts (351), 8th in completions (238), 5th in completion percentage (67.8), 13th in passing yards (2,651), tied for 10th in touchdown passes (18), 11th in interceptions (5) and 5th in passer rating (101.2).
- Bradford is 22nd in pass attempts (311), 19th in completions (217), 3rd in completion percentage (69.8), 21st in passing yards (2,191), tied for 17th in touchdowns (12), tied for 3rd in interceptions (2) and 8th in passer rating (99.8).
- Stafford is eighth in fourth-quarter passer rating at 104.9. Bradford is 11th at 100.6.
- Bradford is seventh in third-down passer rating at 102.8. Stafford is 11th at 93.1.
- Theo Riddick leads the Lions in rushing with 310 yards, which ranks him 37th in the league. Jerick McKinnon leads the Vikings with 285 yards, which ranks him 41st. Matt Asiata is tied for 47th place with 260 yards.
- Diggs is third in the league in receptions with 67. Tate is tied for 23rd with 52 receptions.
- Diggs is ninth in receiving yards with 747. Jones is 21st with 676 yards. Tate is tied for 39th with 540 yards. Thielen is tied for 46th with 518 yards.
- Kyle Rudolph and Anquan Boldin are tied for 29th in scoring among non-kickers with 30 points – each scoring five touchdowns.
- Matt Prater is 16th in scoring among kickers with 75 points. Blair Walsh and Kai Forbath have combined to score 57 points, which would rank them 29th.
- Diggs is 27th in yards from scrimmage with 757 (747 receiving, 10 rushing). Jones leads the Lions with 679 yards (676 receiving, 3 rushing).
- Detroit punter Sam Martin is second in punting average at 49.6 yards. Jeff Locke is 26th at 44.2 yards.
- Martin is No. 1 in net punting average at 45.8 yards. Locke is 15th at 40.5 yards.
- Andre Roberts is third in the league in punt return average at 15.5 yards. Marcus Sherels is fifth at 13.4 yards.
- Of the six punt returns for touchdowns in the NFL this season, four of them have come from Sherels and Roberts, who have scored two each.
- Cordarrelle Patterson leads the NFL in kickoff return average at 32.0 yards – 5.4 yards better than any other returner. Roberts is ninth with a 21.6-yard average.
- Xavier Rhodes is tied for fourth in the league in interceptions with four. Detroit’s Rafael Bush, Andrew Sendejo and Trae Waynes are tied for 16th with two interceptions.
- Danielle Hunter and Detroit’s Kerry Hyder are tied for 14th in sacks with seven. Everson Griffen is tied for 20th with six and Brian Robison is tied for 26th with five
- Sendejo is tied for third with two defensive fumble recoveries.