After the dust has settled on Week 17, the Lions and Vikings both have something to play for in Sunday's season finale at Ford Field.
Detroit can earn the No. 2 seed if they win and Philadelphia and Dallas lose, while Minnesota needs a series of events to occur for their playoff hopes. Those include a Vikings win in Detroit, the Bears beating the Packers, the Cardinals beating the Seahawks, and the Falcons beating the Saints or the Panthers beating the Buccaneers.
Last time out: The Lions came about as close as you can to a win after converting a two-point play to take a 21-20 lead with 23 seconds left before the officials deemed Taylor Decker an ineligible receiver leading to Dallas' eventual 20-19 victory. Ben Johnson's offense scored 16 of their 19 points in the second half. Quarterback Jared Goff didn't have his best stuff—throwing for 271 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions.
Defensive lineman Aidan Hutchinson's three sacks, four tackles for loss, and five quarterback hits helped keep the game within reach. As a team, the defense generated a lot of negative plays including eight tackles for loss and an interception by safety Ifeatu Melifonwu.
The Vikings had a tough game last week against the Packers on Sunday Night Football, falling 33-10. Minnesota made another change at quarterback with Jaren Hall getting the start. Hall completed just five of his 10 passes for 67 yards and threw an interception before being benched at halftime for Nick Mullens. The Vikings found more success in the second half with Mullens but as a team they mustered just 211 total yards.
Jordan Love carved up the Minnesota defense, throwing for three touchdowns and rushing for a fourth. Green Bay recorded 470 yards of offense—177 rushing and 293 passing. The Vikings only had one tackle for loss and did not record a sack.
In their last meeting: Detroit clinched the NFC North just a couple weeks ago with a 30-24 win in Minnesota. The Lions' four interceptions were the difference maker.
Matchups: Can the Lions match the four takeaways they recorded in Week 16? Minnesota's offensive line is in the bottom half of the league in sacks allowed at 43. The Lions' defensive line has struggled to produce sacks, but with Hutchinson coming off a three-sack game and Alim McNeill likely returning to the interior they'll be hoping they can pressure Mullens into some of those same mistakes.
Matchup odds: Detroit is a big favorite with a 70.4 percent chance to win according to ESPN Analytics.
Here are 5 Vikings storylines to follow heading into Sunday's matchup:
1. O'Connell: Mullens to start for Vikings in Week 18 at Lions
Head coach Kevin O'Connell announces Nick Mullens will start after being benched to start Week 17 but then playing the second half in relief of Jaren Hall … READ MORE
2. Lunchbreak: Vikings trying to return defensive efficiency to midseason success level
Minnesota's defense has had some recent struggles and defensive coordinator Brian Flores is focused on getting his squad back to their best by putting an emphasis on fundamentals before their matchup with Detroit ... READ MORE
3. Mullens: We've got four quarters to be our best ... we're fired up
Nick Mullens talks with the media about reclaiming his role as starting quarterback, his comfort level with the offensive scheme and how the team is embracing the challenge of playing on the road in Detroit ... WATCH
4. Jefferson on difficult and complicated nature of this season, team's future at QB and more
Star receiver Justin Jefferson speaks on the difficult obstacles he and the team have faced this season as well as the team's mentality with the playoffs still within reach ... WATCH
5. Risner on keeping a positive mindset, respect for the Lions and more
Guard Dalton Risner discusses the power of perspective going into Week 18 and the respect he has for the Lions defense ... WATCH
View photos of the starters for the Minnesota Vikings.