Big game at Ford Field today as the Detroit Lions look to keep their playoff push alive by hosting the 10-2 Minnesota Vikings, who hope to clinch the NFC North division title on the Lions' home turf.
Here are five things I'll be looking out for:
1. HOME-FIELD ADVANTAGE
The Lions released standing room only tickets on Friday for today's contest in anticipation of another 65,000-plus sell-out crowd. The atmosphere at Ford Field has been electric the last two weeks in games vs. Buffalo and Jacksonville. It's really been a home-field advantage for Detroit.
The Vikings have the ninth most false starts and fourth most delay of game penalties in the NFL this season. Can 65,000-plus make an impact again for the home team? Ford Field will be rocking, for sure.
This Lions team is much different than the one that nearly pulled off a victory in Minneapolis Week 3 before falling, 28-24, to the Vikings.
Just consider this list of impact players who didn't suit up in that Week 3 contest: Guard Jonah Jackson, defensive lineman John Cominsky, cornerback Jerry Jacobs, fullback Jason Cabinda, wide receiver Jameson Williams, defensive lineman Romeo Okwara, defensive lineman Josh Paschal and linebacker James Houston, to name a few.
There's a lot of impact there the Lions are hoping to tap into later today.
3. WILLIAMS USAGE
Detroit's dynamic rookie wide receiver played just eight offensive snaps in his Lions debut last week as the team used the Jacksonville game as a primer to let Williams put his pads on for the first time, go through pregame warmups, come in and out of the huddle, line up and go through some limited reps to get his feet wet.
I'd expect those reps to increase today. I think a modest estimate is somewhere between 15-20, but if he makes an impact early it could be more. Don't be surprised if offensive coordinator Ben Johnson has a play or two designed for Williams to get the ball in his hands. His speed is something a defense can't really prepare for.
4. TURNOVER BATTLE
In the four wins over Detroit's last five contests, the Lions have won the turnover battle 8-1. Detroit forced three turnovers each in wins over Green Bay and the New York Giants.
On the flip side, quarterback Jared Goff has made a conscious effort over the last month and a half to take better care of the football.
"I think I've done a good job taking care of the ball and I think guys have gotten themselves open and we are protecting well, and I've been conscious of (limiting the turnovers)," Goff said this week.
"I think that was an issue for us early on. It was part of why we were losing some of those games. I was very conscious of it, and I think it's been part of why we've won a lot of these games."
Goff hasn't turned the ball over in four straight weeks and has done so just once over Detroit's last five contests. Can that continue? And can the Lions' defense continue to find a way to generate them on their end?
View photos from Detroit Lions practice on Friday, December 9, 2022.
5. KEY MATCHUP
Everyone knows the matchup between Lions cornerback Jeff Okudah and Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson will be a big one, but just as important to me will be the matchup between Lions cornerback Jerry Jacobs and Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen.
It was Thielen, not Jefferson, who was the catalyst behind Minnesota's Week 3 win. He caught six passes for 61 yards and a touchdown. Amani Oruwariye was Detroit's No. 2 cornerback that week and he struggled in that contest. He allowed nine catches on 11 targets for 79 yards and a touchdown in that game. He was also flagged five times for illegal contact, holding and pass interference penalties.
Jacobs has been really good for the Lions since returning from an ACL injury suffered last season. Opposing passers have a 53.6 completion percentage throwing Jacobs' way with a 73.2 passer rating. He has yet to allow a touchdown in his coverage.