While the Detroit Lions appear to be back on track after a rough start, the Minnesota Vikings have hit a rut in the last month.
Trying for a season-high third straight victory, the visiting Lions look to avenge an earlier defeat to the Vikings by handing their division foe a third consecutive loss Sunday.
Detroit (4-4) is last in the NFC North, but has a chance to move ahead of Minnesota (5-4) and over .500 for the first time since Week 1. The Lions have won three of four since a 20-13 home loss to the Vikings on Sept. 30.
In contrast, Minnesota has dropped three of four.
“I think that whether it’s the first game of the year or the ninth game of the year, whatever it is, when you’re playing a division opponent it becomes more important because a win for you also puts a loss on them,” Detroit coach Jim Schwartz said. “The way (the Vikings) started the season, they put themselves in the picture. We can’t worry about that. We need to worry about just this game.”
This contest is of vital importance for both teams as they face difficult schedules in the second half. Detroit and Minnesota have yet to play surging Green Bay and both face AFC power Houston. The Vikings have two games against division-leading Chicago while the Lions face the Bears one more time.
The Lions should be confident after rallying for a 28-24 home win over Seattle on Oct. 28, then rolling to a 31-14 victory at Jacksonville last Sunday. Mikel Leshoure and Joique Bell combined to score four touchdowns and gain 143 of Detroit’s season-high 149 rushing yards against the Jaguars.
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