Is a post-bye letdown the only thing that can stop the Vikings from winning? If it comes down to the quarterbacks, the Vikings have a decided advantage.
(6-2) at Pittsburgh Steelers
(5-3) at Carolina Panthers
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
(1-7) at Miami Dolphins
New Orleans Saints
(8-0) at St. Louis Rams
(4-4) at New York Jets
(3-5) at Tennessee Titans
(6-2) at Washington Redskins
(1-7) at Minnesota Vikings
Kansas City Chiefs
(1-7) at Oakland Raiders
(6-2) at Green Bay Packers
(5-3) at San Diego Chargers
(3-5) at Arizona Cardinals
New England Patriots
(6-2) at Indianapolis Colts
(4-4) at Cleveland Browns
Detroit Lions (1-7) at Minnesota Vikings (7-1)
KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
TV: FOX (Sam Rosen, Tim Ryan, Chris Myers)
KEYS TO THE GAME
QB Matt Stafford has to rebound mentally from his five-interception performance in Seattle in which he forced too many balls into coverage. The Vikings will focus on RB Kevin Smith
and force Stafford to beat them. The rookie is getting more comfortable with rookie TE Brandon Pettigrew
, who can help complement the ground game and move the chains.
Minnesota's biggest potential pitfall is a lack of focus coming off its bye week. QB Brett Favre
claims his injured groin is fine, but expect Minnesota to feature RB Adrian Peterson
early on. Still, Favre will also attack an injury-depleted secondary giving up 263.1 yards per game.
Need to know: The Vikings have not lost to Detroit at the Metrodome since 1997. ... The Lions have lost 24 of their past 25 games.
The Vikings played their first Thanksgiving game in team history at Detroit on Nov. 27, 1969. The Vikings cruised to a 27-0 victory in that game.
Brett Favre had a 100-plus quarterback rating in 99 games during his 19-year career. Favre's teams are 91-8 in his previous games with a 100-plus rating.
Favre has thrown for at least two touchdowns in 11 consecutive games at the Metrodome. With two more this week, Favre will tie the longest streak for consecutive games with multiple touchdown passes at one stadium. Favre (Lambeau Field, 1994-96) and Kurt Warner (Trans World Dome/Edward Jones Dome, 1999-2000) each had a streak of 12 games.
TE Visanthe Shiancoe needs two receiving touchdowns to tie the team record for the most receiving touchdowns in a single season by a Vikings tight end. Joe Senser had eight in 1981.
LB Chad Greenway intercepted two passes against Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford in a 27-13 victory at Ford Field on Sept. 20 in the first meeting between these teams this season. Greenway was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week for his performance.
Brad Childress is 6-1 against the Lions since taking over as the Vikings coach in 2006. The only loss came on Sept. 16, 2007, when the Lions beat the Vikings 20-17 in overtime at Ford Field.
The Lions haven't scored a rushing touchdown on the Vikings in the past six meetings between the teams, dating to Oct. 8, 2006.
If the Vikings do not allow a Lions running back to reach 100 rushing yards, it will mark the 32nd consecutive game the team hasn't given up 100 yards rushing to an individual. The Vikings current streak of 31 games is the longest active stretch in the NFL. The last player to rush for 100 yards against the Vikings was the Packers' Ryan Grant on Nov. 11, 2007 (102 yards).
Quarterback Matthew Stafford laughed off his alleged tiff with wide receiver Calvin Johnson. A TV replay showed Stafford trying to talk to Johnson during Sunday's 32-20 loss at Seattle, with Johnson turning his head away. Stafford laughed and said it wasn't an issue. Asked why he was laughing, he said: "Because that's funny. I didn't know that happened." Stafford said he didn't even know what moment people might have misinterpreted. "I don't remember an incident like that," Stafford said. "We're good." So they aren't going at it? "No, we're not," Stafford said. "No feud here."
Stafford's right knee injury is still a factor two games into his return. "I'm still getting better at trusting it, I guess," Stafford said.
Stafford is known for his strong arm, but he has floated some balls and underthrown receivers at times. "I made some bad throws," Stafford said. "But I just need to get used to ... It was only my second game back in a month, and I'm trying to get the strength back more than anything. It's not a fear of injury or anything like that. It's just getting back to playing strength, I would say."
Asked if that can affect his mechanics, Stafford said: "It can. I can't let it, though. I've just got to get through it."
The Lions have brought in yet another defensive back: Jack Williams. He's the seventh they have added since Sept. 4. Three of them are no longer on the active roster, including Jason David, whom they signed last week and released to make room for Williams. Told the guy he replaced lasted only a week, Williams said: "I heard about that. That's crazy." A teammate interjected: "This place is crazy."
Defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham studied Williams before the draft last year as Kansas City's defensive coordinator. He said Williams, 5-feet-9, 183 pounds, doesn't have great speed. But he said he has a feel for the game and could tackle, blitz and cover. He can also contribute on special teams. "I said, ‘This kid's going to be all right. He's going to make it,' " Cunningham said. "We're real fortunate to get him."
Cunningham liked what he saw from rookie linebacker DeAndre Levy in practice Wednesday. He liked what he heard, too. "I enjoyed it when he told everybody, ‘Shut the hell up and get in the huddle. Let's go,' " Cunningham said. "My guy's growing up fast. He has good command, and it's good to see."
Levy replaced the injured Ernie Sims on the outside, but he took over the injured Larry Foote's leadership role, at least for one practice. Levy said he feels more comfortable speaking up now that he has some experience. "I've been out there with those guys in real game situations and in practice all the time, so I think it just relaxed me a little bit," Levy said. "They know it's not just some dumb rookie. I've been out there with them battling out on the field with them, so I can try to get a little respect."
Sims just got over a shoulder injury. He missed the first game of his four-year career Sept. 27 against Washington. He made only one tackle over the next three games in limited playing time. Then he led the Lions with seven tackles Nov. 1 against St. Louis, making three in a five-play span. "When I was making those plays, I knew I was back to where I wanted to be," said Sims, the ninth overall pick in 2006. "My shoulder was feeling great. I felt like I did the first couple years I was here, making a lot of tackles. ... Even though we lost the game and I was disappointed by that, I still was excited I was able to get back into my old shape and form."