National Football League
Preview
Minnesota at Detroit
When: 1:00 PM ET, Sunday, January 3, 2021
Where: Ford Field, Detroit, Michigan

The season finale between the Minnesota Vikings and Detroit Lions will not only lack drama, it will be played without the biggest star for either team.

Vikings All-Pro running back Dalvin Cook won't travel to Detroit due to the death of his father James. Cook has rushed for 1,557 yards and 16 touchdowns while averaging 5.0 yards per carry.

Minnesota (6-9) was officially eliminated from playoff contention last week with a 52-33 loss to New Orleans on Christmas Day. The Vikings will try to avoid finishing the season on a four-game slide.

Detroit (5-10) has dropped seven of its last nine, including a 47-7 thrashing by Tampa Bay on Saturday.

Minnesota quarterback Kirk Cousins, who needs 140 passing yards on Sunday to reach the 4,000-yard mark this season, sees some value in collecting a Week 17 victory.

"We want to finish strong," he said. "I heard this morning that it's important we don't use this as the last game of this year but as the first game of 2021. That will kind of help us to focus on where we're headed and what we're trying to build, trying to get 2021 started off on the right foot."

Cousins has turned his season around after a slow start, throwing 21 touchdown passes compared to three interceptions over the last nine games. He was picked off 12 times during the first six games when Minnesota won just one game.

"I do look at it and see there was an improvement after the bye week in terms of turnovers but if you don't have those turnovers earlier in the year, maybe you don't start 1-5," he said.

Cook will be replaced by a combination of Ameer Abdullah, Mike Boone and Alexander Mattison.

The Vikings' run defense has fallen apart the last two games, allowing Chicago's David Montgomery to rush for 146 yards and two touchdowns and New Orleans' Alvin Kamara to pile up 155 yards and six touchdowns.

Detroit's injury-riddled defense has allowed 30 or more points in the last five games. The Buccaneers could have easily scored more than 47 points last weekend if they hadn't eased up and used backups most of the second half.

At least the Lions will have some semblance of a coaching staff for the finale. Due to COVID-19 protocols, a majority of the staff was forced to miss the Bucs game, including interim head coach Darrell Bevell.

"Very strange experience," Bevell said. "I would probably use the word helpless, as you're sitting there just watching it on TV. I really felt like I needed to be there. I wanted to be there."

The Lions' offense looked helpless as well after quarterback Matthew Stafford hobbled off during the first quarter with an ankle injury.

Bevell hasn't completely ruled out Stafford for Sunday's game, though it seems unlikely he'll play. He's also battling a rib injury and didn't practice on Wednesday. If he can't go, Chase Daniel or Daniel Blough would get the call.

"With Matthew, I think the best thing for him is he's got the best feel and read for his body," Bevell said. "So we'll continue to progress like we normally do with him. Some of the other injuries are resolving, so we'll see how this injury on his ankle resolves by the end of the week."

--Field Level Media

"With Matthew, I think the best thing for him is he's got the best feel and read for his body," Bevell said. "So we'll continue to progress like we normally do with him. Some of the other injuries are resolving, so we'll see how this injury on his ankle resolves by the end of the week."

--Field Level Media

Stats and Records
Team Comparison
  W‑L Strk PF PA Home Away Grass Turf OT Div Conf
Minnesota 6-9 L3 26.2 29.3 3-5 3-4 2-1 0-0 - - 4-7
Detroit 5-10 L3 22.8 32.1 1-6 4-4 4-3 0-0 - - 4-7
Last Meeting
Minnesota Detroit
Date Away Home Tot Rus Pas Tot Rus Pas
11/8/20 DET 20 MIN 34 487 275 212 421 129 292
Player Stats
Previous Matchup
Passing Player COMP % YDS TD INT
Minnesota K. Cousins 65.0 220 3 0
Detroit M. Stafford 71.9 211 1 2
Rushing Player CAR YDS AVG TD
Minnesota D. Cook 22 206 9.4 2
Detroit D. Swift 13 64 4.9 0
Receiving Player REC YDS AVG TD
Minnesota J. Jefferson 3 64 21.3 0
Detroit D. Amendola 7 77 11.0 0
Touchdowns Player TD
Minnesota D. Cook 2
Detroit T. Hockenson 1
Season
Passing Player COMP % YDS TD INT
Minnesota K. Cousins 67.4 3860 32 13
Detroit M. Stafford 64.2 3791 23 9
Rushing Player CAR YDS AVG TD
Minnesota D. Cook 312 1557 5.0 16
Detroit A. Peterson 149 541 3.6 6
Receiving Player REC YDS AVG TD
Minnesota J. Jefferson 79 1267 16.0 7
Detroit M. Jones Jr. 68 798 11.7 7
Touchdowns Player TD
Minnesota D. Cook 17
Detroit D. Swift 9