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O'HARA'S FINAL THOUGHTS: Lions continue to compete hard as they search for first victory

Whatever shortcomings and deficiencies have been exposed in the Detroit Lions as they remain in search of their first victory going into today's game against the Minnesota Vikings, their willingness to compete has been a constant.

That doesn't take away the sting of their 0-10-1 record and the close games they've lost – particularly of late.

But at least there is some professional satisfaction that they haven't given up on accomplishing something in this season.

"Us guys in that locker room, every time we go out there we're playing for each other," said cornerback Amani Oruwariye.

"Obviously at this point, disregard the record. Go out there and play for that name on the back of your jersey. Play for that logo. Find your 'why' and go out and play. That's what I think guys are doing.

"Guys are going out there and digging deep, playing for a good cause. That's all we can do."

For head coach Dan Campbell, it starts with the coaching staff and filters down through the players – from established veterans to rookies.

"The staff has done a good job of keeping the energy alive, and keeping hope there," he said. "And just continuing to coach up the details of the game. All these players, they want to know you care about them, and that you've got some tools for them that are going to help them be better.

"I credit our guys, too. The vets we've got on this team are good vets. They understand that at some point when you don't get the wins, it's still about pride.

"We have a lot of young, hungry players who want an opportunity to play, and who are getting that opportunity to play."

Spoilers: The Vikings' 5-6 record makes them candidates for the Lions to play the spoiler role against teams in playoff contention.

The Vikings' streak of making the postseason every other year since Mike Zimmer became head coach in 2014 is in jeopardy. They've made it in 2015, 2017 and 2019, and missed in 2014, 2016, 2018 and 2020. They can't afford many more slip-ups – which means they won't hold anything back against the Lions.

Random Thoughts:

Run depth, Lions: They lose a consistent runner/receiver/breakaway threat with D'Andre Swift out with a shoulder injury, but there's depth to piece together a solid backfield.

Jamaal Williams carries the load, but Jermar Jefferson, Godwin Igwebuike and fullback Jason Cabinda have broken big plays in the last three games.

"It's a deep group, with Godwin coming on the way he has and Jefferson, if he's healthy," said offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn.

Run depth, Vikings: The Lions catch a break with Dalvin Cook out, but Alexander Mattison was more than capable as his replacement when Cook missed the Vikings' Week 5 win over the Lions. Mattison ran for 113 yards on 25 carries. He's also a short-range threat out of the backfield.

Good stat, run D: The Lions held the Bears to 68 yards on 29 carries and 2.3 yards per carry on Thanksgiving Day.

Sad sack stats: Unfortunately, the Lions lack a pass rush to take advantage of putting teams in passing situations. They have 16 sacks. Only the Falcons, with 15, have fewer.

Fresh legs: Rookie defensive linemen Levi Onwuzurike and Alim McNeill could get more playing time in the final six games.

"They're going to be pushed," said defensive line coach Todd Wash. "We walked out of the meeting (Wednesday), Levi was limping a little bit. I said, 'We don't have time for that crap.'"

Lions-Vikings breakdown: The Vikings haven't been able to win more than two in a row, which is one reason they're a game under 500. They haven't had a real winning streak. The Lions have a tie and two losses since their bye, and they've been good on defense. If they ever get anything from the offense they'll win a game. Expect another close game with the Vikings, with a similar result.

Pick: Vikings 20, Lions 17.

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