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Week 16 opponent: What the Vikings are saying

What are the Minnesota Vikings talking about ahead of this week's crucial NFC North matchup against the Detroit Lions at US Bank Stadium? Let's find out:

1. Vikings head coach Kevin O'Connell named veteran Nick Mullens his starting quarterback for Sunday's contest. Mullens was 26-of-33 passing for 303 yards with two touchdowns, two interceptions and a 99.9 passer rating in a 27-24 overtime loss to Cincinnati last week.

O'Connell also said speedy second year running back Ty Chandler will continue to be a bigger part of the offense moving forward. He recorded Minnesota's first 100-yard rushing performance of the season last week and has big play speed (4.38).

View photos of the starters for the Minnesota Vikings.

2. What does Vikings defensive coordinator Brian Flores think of Detroit's rushing offense?

"Diverse," he said. "They have two really good backs. Really all their backs are good. The one-two combo with (David) Montgomery and (Jahmyr) Gibbs is very good. Good offensive line. Good scheme. I think Ben Johnson has done a really good job of mixing zone schemes and gap schemes and putting their guys in good positions. Their runners run hard and their offensive line blocks well. Their receivers block. Their tight ends block. It's a good overall group."

Detroit enters this weekend as the league's No. 2 rushing offense (140.9). The Vikings have the league's No. 5 run defense (92.0).

3. Flores said there's a chance his defense gets linebacker Jordan Hicks back from injury this week. Minnesota has opened Hicks' practice window and Flores said they'll see how he looks this week before making a decision about Sunday.

Hicks suffered a scary injury against the Saints Week 10 when he took a hit to the shin and developed compartment syndrome in his leg. He was rushed to the hospital to undergo an emergency procedure to relieve the pressure and save his leg. Hicks has 87 tackles in 10 games played this season.

Hicks said Tuesday the last month has gone by slow but his leg feels 100 percent and he hopes to play Sunday vs. Detroit.

4. Minnesota offensive coordinator Wes Phillips was on the Los Angeles Rams' staff in 2019 and 2020 as the tight ends coach and knows Lions quarterback Jared Goff very well. Phillips said he wished Goff wasn't in the same division because then he could really root for him.

"Just because I really enjoyed my time with him," Phillips said. "What you see, there's a reason why he was the first pick in the draft as a quarterback. The arm talent, the accuracy. His ability to get the ball out in some tough situations accurately.

"Then they've got some weapons. You put people around him and you see kind of what it can be. He's one of those guys if you can scheme it right, and Ben Johnson has done a great job, if you scheme it right, he's going to hit it every time."

5. Both Phillips and O'Connell were on the Rams staff when Goff was in LA and Phillips said both have tried to give Flores some insight and tips about things Goff maybe struggled with or wasn't as comfortable with from their time working together. O'Connell was Goff's offensive coordinator in LA in 2020.

6. Vikings special teams coordinator Matt Daniels said Detroit is always a fun team to play against.

"This group is always fun to play against because they are really good people before the game and after the game, but they really play nasty during it," he said. "Which is always exciting, and the guys look forward to it. They are always a very, very physical group. They play the game the right way."

Daniels said it's easy to see the culture change in Detroit under head coach Dan Campbell and the football team takes on the attitude of the head coach. He said his guys understand this isn't the same Detroit team they are used to seeing.

"We are going to have to put our big boy pads on and be ready for a physical football game," he said.

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