View from the other side: Lions vs. Vikings

Julie Walker
The Detroit News

Vikings at Lions

Kickoff: 1 p.m. Sunday, Ford Field, Detroit

TV/radio: Fox/760

Records: Lions 2-1-1, Vikings 4-2

Line: Vikings by 2

Chris Tomasson, who covers the Vikings for the St. Paul Pioneer Press, answers a few questions heading into Sunday’s game. You can follow him on Twitter @christomasson

View from the other side

Question: The Vikings swept the Lions last season. What will be different for Sunday’s meeting in Detroit?

Tomasson: The Lions seemingly will be determined not to let the Vikings sack Matthew Stafford as much as they have in recent years. Minnesota has sacked Stafford 21 times in the past four games, including 10 last November at U.S. Bank Stadium. The Lions were able to trim that to just two times last December at Ford Field, but still lost 27-9 in a game in which they had just 86 yards rushing. The Lions will do what they can to mix in the running game and try to keep Vikings defenders off Stafford.

Question: Kirk Cousins and Stefon Diggs found a connection last weekend against the Eagles. Does their hot streak continue Sunday?

Tomasson: It could continue. However, Lions coach Matt Patricia, going back to his days as New England's defensive coordinator, will look to come up with something creative to stop the two. He might be able to do it. But then there's the risk that running back Dalvin Cooks gets rolling. He is fourth in the NFL in rushing with 583 yards and has four 100-yard games out of six.

Question: Some might say the Lions’ record doesn’t reflect the newfound fire the team has been playing with this season. How will this uptick affect the Vikings’ game plan to try and secure the win?

Tomasson: The Vikings know the Lions always can be pesky. After U.S. Bank Stadium opened in 2016, Detroit beat Minnesota in each of its first two visits there. The Vikings know that Matt Prater is always a possible threat at the end with a long field goal. The Vikings have won three straight in the series, but they lost some tough games to Detroit in 2016 and 2017, so they know they have to be ready. 

Kirk Cousins

Vikings to watch

Kirk Cousins, QB: The Michigan State alumnus has been gaining more passing yardage each game since the end of September, with more than 300 yards in Minnesota's past two wins. He had 333 yards in a 38-20 win against the Eagles last week and threw four touchdowns, including passes of 62 and 51 yards. The Eagles have the fourth-worst pass defense with opponents averaging 280 yards per game, which is roughly the same amount the Lions are allowing.

Stefon Diggs, WR: The elusive wideout started slow after coming off his first 1,000-yard season last year. Scoring just one touchdown over the first five games, Diggs came alive last week against the Eagles, with a seven-catch, 167-yard performance that was highlighted by three touchdowns. He has 23 receptions for 420 yards on the season. The Lions will need to revive their man-to-man coverage that held Diggs to two receptions, 10 yards and a score when the teams last met in December 2018.

Adam Thielen, WR: Thielen’s production has increased each season since entering the league in 2014, topping 1,200 yards receiving in each of the past two. This season, he leads the Vikings with 26 catches and five touchdown receptions, and has racked up 187 yards and three scores over the past two games. One thing that could slow down Thielen is history — the Lions held Thielen to nine receptions, 102 yards and a touchdown in their two meetings last year during a season when he had nine games with more than 100 yards.