Detroit Lions vs. Minnesota Vikings Pick & Prediction JANUARY 7th 2024

Following their controversial loss in Dallas, the Detroit Lions are virtually locked into the No. 3 seed in the NFC playoffs.

The Lions have faint hopes of moving up to the No. 2 spot but coach Dan Campbell says he’s not resting his regulars in the regular-season finale against Minnesota on Sunday afternoon.

“To me, it’s about winning this game,” he said. “We’re going to use our full arsenal here and go win this game. That’s the objective here.”

Detroit (11-5) needs a win, while the Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles would have to lose or tie in their games on Sunday in order for the Lions to snag the No. 2 seed. The Cowboys visit the Commanders (4-12) and the Eagles tackle the Giants (5-11) later in the day.

“Everybody’s going to be wanting to see it and that’s why you need to win, so that you’re going to be excited to watch the games and see what happens,” Campbell said. “Look, we’ve got to finish out strong. We need to go play good, solid, clean, competitive football against an opponent that’s going to give us everything they’ve got.”

The Lions are still smarting from the 20-19 loss to the Cowboys on Saturday night. Jared Goff’s touchdown pass to Amon-Ra St. Brown with 23 seconds remaining pulled them within a point. Detroit appeared to take the lead when Goff threw a 2-point conversion pass to tackle Taylor Decker but the officials ruled that Decker hadn’t reported as eligible. The Lions vehemently disputed the call during and after the game.

A week earlier, Detroit clinched the NFC North title with a 30-24 win at Minnesota.

The Vikings (7-9) haven’t been eliminated from the wild-card race, but their playoff hopes were virtually snuffed out with a 33-10 loss to Green Bay on Sunday night.

They need a victory on Sunday and losses by the Packers and Seattle, along with a loss by either Tampa Bay or New Orleans, to sneak into the postseason.

“They’re very much aware that the only thing that matters is us finding a way to win a football game,” coach Kevin O’Connell said of how the Vikings will approach Week 18 with postseason uncertainty in the air. “Then from there, we’ll kind of figure out what that (playoff picture) looks like.”

Nick Mullens will start at quarterback this week. He threw for 411 yards and two touchdowns against the Lions but was also intercepted four times.

O’Connell rolled the dice with rookie Jaren Hall against the Packers. Hall was pulled in favor of Mullens for the second half after the Packers grabbed a 23-3 halftime lead but the damage had been done.

“We’ve been very explosive as an offense when he’s been in there,” O’Connell said of Mullens. “Nick knows that the one area that we must focus on is possession of the football and not giving the football away on some of these weighty-type downs — third down, two-minute — where we’re kind of in that throw mode. He’s got to be a great decision-maker.”

Defensive back C.J. Gardner-Johnson, officially listed as questionable, is expected to return to action for Detroit on Sunday. He has missed most of the season with a pectoral injury.

The Lions ruled out wide receiver Jameson Williams (ankle, illness), tight end Brock Wright (hip) and linebacker James Houston (ankle). Defensive tackles Alim McNeill (knee) and Benito Jones (illness) are questionable.

The Vikings ruled out six players: wide receiver Jalen Nailor (concussion), tackle Brian O’Neill (ankle), defensive tackle Jaquelin Roy (ankle), cornerbacks Mekhi Blackmon (shoulder) and Byron Murphy Jr. (knee) and safety Theo Jackson (toe). Tackle Christian Darrisaw (illness) and guard Ed Ingram (shoulder) are questionable.

–Field Level Media

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