NFL Wire News

Week 15 Preview: Vikings at Lions

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Minnesota Vikings (6-7) at Detroit Lions (9-4)

Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET, at Ford Field, Detroit – TV: FOX

*TV announcers: Chris Myers, Ronde Barber, Jennifer Hal

*Keys to the game: The Vikings were physically overpowered in a 17-3 loss to the Lions at home in Week 6. As they prepare for the rematch, QB Teddy Bridgewater is confident he is a different quarterback capable of handling Detroit’s defense far better.

But he can’t do anything about the ground game, which managed only 68 yards against the Lions’ top-ranked run defense the first time around. And Minnesota’s prospects on the ground aren’t promising as they’re slated to line up with their second left guard, second right tackle and third right guard this season.

Regardless, the Vikings must run the ball far better Sunday, because the Lions will also have WR Calvin Johnson and Reggie Bush available for the rematch. QB Matthew Stafford’s main charge is to avoid turnovers and force Bridgewater to win the game with extended drives on the road.

*Matchup to watch – Vikings CB Xavier Rhodes vs. Johnson: Rhodes, a first-round pick in 2013, is quietly emerging as one of the league’s top young cover corners. He is big and aggressive, working well in tight coverage and racking up three passes defenses in each of the past three games. Johnson is finally healthy and has three touchdown catches over the past two weeks.

*Player spotlight – Vikings RBs Ben Tate/Joe Banyard: Vikings coach Mike Zimmer admitted plodding former fullback Mike Asiata received too many touches with 19 carries last week. Tate, added to the roster three weeks ago and Banyard, a former practice squad player with some shiftiness to his game, are expected to be far more involved this week.

*Fast facts: Bridgewater was sacked eight times in the first meeting. He has been sacked 13 times over his past six games.

WHO WILL WIN AND WHY

The Vikings are just good enough to catch the Lions’ attention, but Minnesota’s six wins are all against teams currently with losing records. The Lions will physically dominate in the trenches defensively, providing Stafford & Co. with consistent short fields to play with.

*Our pick: Lions 23-13


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