The game is important for both teams, as they each look to stay close to the division's top two teams, the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears. In Week 4, the Vikings edged the Lions in Detroit, 20-13, thanks in large part to special teams play. Percy Harvin returned the opening kickoff 105 yards for a touchdown and, in the third quarter, Marcus Sherels took a punt return back 77 yards for a score, giving Minnesota the eventual winning points.
Meet the Minnesota Vikings
Minnesota is currently in the midst of a two-game losing streak, dropping three of their last four overall. The Vikings lost last week in Seattle to the Seahawks, 30-20, after scoring only three points in the second half. The loss dropped Minnesota to 1-3 overall on the road this season.
Running back Adrian Peterson leads the league's fifth-ranked rushing attack (Minnesota averages 145.4 yards on the ground per game) with 957 yards, which is tops in the NFL. He's also recorded six touchdowns this season, good for third in the league. Minnesota's pass defense, which allows 220.3 yards per game, ranks ninth in the NFL.
Meet the Detroit Lions
The Lions, on the other hand, have won two straight contests after cruising to a 31-14 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 9. After enduring a three-game losing skid earlier in the season, Detroit has rallied to win three of their last four.
Detroit's pass offense is the NFL's best, averaging 307.3 yards per game. Quarterback Matthew Stafford has thrown 2,393 yards per game, good for seventh overall in the league. Additionally, wide receiver Calvin Johnson's 767 receiving yards is the third-highest total in the NFL. Running back Mikel Leshoure piled up three rushing touchdowns last week against Jacksonville.
Local Takes: Vikings
Christopher Gates from the Daily Norseman says the Vikings are at risk of wasting another incredible season from Peterson:
In Adrian Peterson's last three games, he has carried the ball 55 times. He has gained 458 yards, meaning that every time he carries the football, he's gaining a little more than eight yards. He's done this with the offense netting under 100 passing yards in two of those three games (and the third game is skewed by a lot of garbage time yardage). He's averaging a ridiculous 5.7 yards per carry. He has 11 carries of at least 20 yards (nobody else has more than seven). He's currently the only running back in the NFL averaging more than 100 yards rushing per game.
And, as he's done for the majority of his career, he's doing it with little to no help.
Local Takes: Lions
Sean Yuille from Pride of Detroit says Detroit will have plenty of chances to determine their playoff fate in the coming weeks:
It won't be easy for the Lions to continue winning with how tough their schedule is, but the flip side is that they will have a chance to take out other teams in contention for wild-card spots. They still have the Vikings, Packers (twice) and Cardinals on their schedule, so the Lions can help themselves out in those games.
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I like how the anonymous GM says Raiola isn't even an "average backup." News flash: Raiola has started 164 career games in the NFL.— Pride Of Detroit (@PrideOfDetroit) November 6, 2012
I give The Man With The Iron Fists 10 knife crazed Russell Crowes out of 10 awesome martial arts tropes.— Chris Kluwe (@ChrisWarcraft) November 6, 2012
@davebirkett - Dave Birkett, Lions beat writer for the Detroit Free Press.
There's something 2 be said 4 beating teams u should, like Lions did last yr "@hencher90: got to beat the best anyway. That tenn game sucks"— Dave Birkett (@davebirkett) November 7, 2012
The Lions, 4-4, go on the road to face the Vikings, 5-4, in a game that could have some Wild Card implications. The once great Vikings defense has given up 30 or more points in three of its last four games. Calvin Johnson's end zone struggles will end on Sunday with the Lions offense doing too much for the struggling Vikings.
The pick: 23-20, Lions.
According to OddsShark, the line opened this week with the Vikings as 2½-point favorites, but the spread has currently shifted over to Detroit's side, as the Lions are favored by one point. The opening over/under point total for the contest was 47, and remains the same.
After hosting the Lions, Minnesota goes on their bye week before traveling to Chicago to face the Bears in Week 12. The Lions, meanwhile, host another division foe in the Packers, who will be coming off their bye week in Week 11.