Scouting report: Lions vs. Vikings

Detroit News

Vikings at Lions

 Kickoff: Sunday 1, Ford Field, Detroit

▶ TV/radio: Fox/97.1 FM

▶ Records: Vikings 10-2, Lions 5-7

▶ Line: Lions by 1

Nolan Bianchi of The Detroit News breaks down the Lions’ Week 14 matchup against the Minnesota Vikings.

Key matchup

TURNOVER BATTLE

This might be a little simplistic, but if you’re wondering how nine straight Vikings wins can come down to one score — or how the Lions always seemed to lose by one score early in the season — their plus-eight turnover differential is probably the place to start. Of late, the Lions have started to reap their own rewards in this area — DeShon Elliott’s forced fumble on Jacksonville’s opening drive set the tone for a huge Lions win — and with Jared Goff’s recent ability to protect the ball, the Lions’ defense has ample opportunity to turn Ford Field into a house of horrors with one or two turnovers this weekend.

Vikings to watch

RB Dalvin Cook: Dalvin Cook has terrorized the Lions since joining the league, averaging 104.9 yards in seven career games against Detroit. He left the Week 3 matchup because of a shoulder injury after fumbling — not before racking up 96 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries — but has seen his production dip a bit in recent weeks, failing to crack 100 yards in each of his last three games, including a 42-yard, 22-carry performance against New England on Thanksgiving Day. If the Lions’ run defense holds to recent standards, this will be a fascinating matchup.

QB Kirk Cousins: The Lions’ pass coverage broke down in their Week 3 loss to the Vikings, but it should be apparent now that slowing down Jefferson is not the end-all, be-all to stopping Minnesota’s passing game. K.J. Osborn had five catches for 73 yards and the game-winning touchdown, Adam Thielen had six catches for 61 yards and a tocuhdown, and Cousins went 24-for-41 passing for 260 yards and two touchdowns.

CB Patrick Peterson: The Vikings’ pass defense hasn’t been great in the last handful of weeks, having allowed 300 or more yards in each of their last four games. With nearly half of the Vikings’ starting defense on the injury report because of illness — including Peterson — we’ll have to wait and see exactly who is available for this weekend. But with cornerback Akayleb Evans heading to IR earlier this week, subtracting from an already-thin group, the Vikings need Peterson to bring his best game to Ford Field.

Facts and figures

▶ Vikings wide receiver Jalen Reagor guaranteed a victory over the Lions this Sunday. Reagor, who famously was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles one spot ahead of fellow Vikings receiver Justin Jefferson, has caught six passes for 87 yards and a touchdown in 12 games this season.

▶ Former University of Michigan safety Josh Metellus made his first career start against the Lions in Week 3, coming down with an interception to go with a career-high 11 tackles and two passes defended.

▶ Former Lions tight end T.J. Hockenson is still getting his feet under him in Minnesota. Hockenson, a former No. 8 pick by the Lions in 2019, is averaging six receptions and 45 yards per game since being traded after Week 8.

nbianchi@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @nolanbianchi

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