LIONS INSIDER

GAME PREVIEW: Lions look to end season on good note

Posted Dec 29, 2013

Tim Twentyman breaks down five keys for the Detroit Lions to come away with a win in season finale at the Metrodome

HISTORY

Today will mark the seventh time in this series these two teams will meet in the last week of the regular season. The last time was in 2010/11, when the Lions defeated the Vikings 20-13 at Ford Field.

The Lions won the first meeting between these two teams, 34-24, in Week 1 of this season at Ford Field. Lions running back Reggie Bush totaled 191 total yards in the win.

The Vikings hold an all-time series edge of 68-34-2.

A LOOK AT THE STATS

 LionsVikings
Record 7-8 4-10-1
Points per game 25.5 (11) 25.1 (12)
Total yards per game 401.9 (3 344.2 (13)
Rushing yards 115.3 (17) 127.1 (10)
Passing yards 286.7 (3) 217.1 (22)
Points allowed 24.1 (17) 31.1 (32)
Total yards allowed 346.7 (16) 408.0 (31)
Rushing yards allowed 94.8 (4) 113.6 (18)
Passing yards allowed 251.9 (27) 294.4 (32)
Turnover ratio -14 (29) -10 (28)

BY THE NUMBERS

27: Receiving yards need by Lions running back Reggie Bush to reach 500 on the season. If he does, Bush and Joique Bell can become the first running backs on the same team to have 500 yards rushing and receiving in the same season. Bell has 619 yards rushing and 522 receiving. Bush has 974 yards rushing and 473 receiving.

294.4: Passing yards allowed per game by the Vikings this season after giving up 366 to Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton last week. The Vikings are now last in the league in pass defense.

7: Receiving yards needed by Lions receiver Calvin Johnson to reach his third season in a row with 1,500.

5 KEYS

GET STAFFORD BACK ON TRACK

Stafford has thrown 11 of his 19 interceptions in the last five weeks, as the Lions are just 1-4 over that stretch.

Stafford needs to take better care of the football, certainly, but teammates have to be better around him, too. He’s endured too many drops and not enough receivers making plays for him these last few weeks.

The good news is the Vikings have the worst pass defense in the NFL and have allowed a league-high 36 touchdown passes this season.

COVERAGE UNITS

Vikings receiver/kick returner Cordarrelle Patterson averages 33.6 yards per kick return, the second-highest season average since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970.

Vikings punt returner Marcus Sherels currently holds the team record and also ranks second in the NFL with a 13.6 punt return average.

The Lions have not allowed a return touchdown all season long and certainly don’t want to start Week 17.

BOOK END TACKLES

Vikings defensive ends Jared Allen (9.5) and Brian Robinson (9.0) can become the first Vikings duo to each get 10 sacks in a season since 2004 – Kevin Williams (12) and Lance Johnstone (11).

To make matters a little more interesting for the Lions, they’ll be without starting right tackle LaAdrian Waddle (ankle). That means Corey Hilliard or Jason Fox will have to step in and play well.

WHO STEPS UP?

Receiver Calvin Johnson is questionable to play today, and even if he does, he’s probably going to be just as limited as he was last week against the New York Giants.

Even as limited as Johnson was (43 snaps), he still led all Lions wide receivers with three catches for 43 yards.

Kevin Ogletree, Kris Durham and Nate Burleson each had two catches apiece for a combined 55 yards. That’s simply not good enough. The Lions have to get more production from the outside portion of the field today.

TURN MOMENTUM

Mall of America Field, or the Metrodome, as most people know it as, is a tough place to play. It’s loud and it feels like the fans are right on top of the action.

The atmosphere is going to be even crazier on Sunday as the Vikings play their last game in the building before it’s torn down to start construction on their new stadium.

There will be tributes and video montages and the Vikings are going to try and whip their fan base into a frenzy to start the game. The Lions need to weather that early emotion and take the energy out of the building with a fast start.

PLAYERS TO WATCH: LIONS

Reggie Bush/Joique Bell, RB:

Bush had 191 scrimmage yards (90 rush, 101 rec) and a touchdown (77-yard reception) and Bell had two touchdowns in the first meeting with the Vikings Week 1.

Darius Slay, CB:

Darius SlayCB Darius Slay (Photo: Gavin Smith)

Slay is likely to get the start for Chris Houston, who is doubtful to play because of illness and a toe injury. Slay hasn’t played since Thanksgiving because of a knee injury, though he was active against New York last week. The victory over the Packers on Thanksgiving was his best performance of the season. Can he continue where he left off?

Nick Fairley, DT:

Fairley had a monster game last week with a sack, safety and forced fumble. He’s been playing really well over the last month of the season and has really been a force in the middle for the Lions. He's played so well, in fact, he's earned a Pro Bowl alternate nod.

PLAYERS TO WATCH: VIKINGS

Cordarrelle Patterson, WR/KR:

Has scored a touchdown in four consecutive games, becoming the first Vikings rookie to do so since Randy Moss scored in seven straight games in 1998. Had a season-high 141 receiving yards against Baltimore in Week 14.

Greg Jennings, WR:

In his past two home games, Jennings has 18 catches for 241 yards (120.5 per game) and two touchdowns.

Brian Robison, DE:

Robison has been on a tear the least two months with eight sacks in his last eight games.