Vikings Provide Cautionary Tale for Lions on Sunday

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When the Minnesota Vikings take the field on Sunday in Detroit against the Lions, they will have almost nothing left to play for. The same cannot be said of Dan Campbell’s squad, but they appear determined to find that 12th victory anyway. Caution is something they should exercise.

Vikings Provide Cautionary Tale for Lions on Sunday

Although the season has not gone as planned for Kevin O’Connell’s Vikings, plenty of that onus can be placed on how many players have missed time. Losing superstar wide receiver Justin Jefferson and being without starting quarterback Kirk Cousins were notable circumstances. The reality is that time missed has permeated so far beyond that.

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The Vikings have been thin at the cornerback position and have played with just one of their starting edge rushers virtually all season. The linebacking corps needed a re-signing of Anthony Barr to move forward, and the right tackle position has been in backup mode for quite some time, too.

Excluding those still on injured reserve, a glance at the Minnesota injury report from Thursday should be eye-opening enough for the Lions.

Sure, Dan Campbell and his team feel scorned for a victory taken from them a week ago against the Detroit Lions. When they attempted trickery and instead caused an official to alter the game, it undoubtedly left a sour taste in their mouth. Placing all that frustration into a meaningless Week 18 game is a bit short-sighted, however.

It would be in Minnesota’s best interest if Detroit emerged victorious. Nick Mullens isn’t worthy of any moral victories, and the draft pick positioning improves with a loss. It would be in the best interest of the Lions not to worry about injuring any of their key players during the game. Detroit has been the cream of the crop in the NFC North all season long, and they have an opportunity to make noise in the playoffs.

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There is no reason Campbell shouldn’t have his team prepared to play a complete game on Sunday, but he should be doing so through the lens of backups and reserves. Getting the starters a few reps to keep them fresh is an understandable proposition, but putting them through the rigors of a full game makes little sense when so much more is on the line.

Ultimately, it remains unlikely that anyone from the NFC North will represent the conference in the Super Bowl. The San Francisco 49ers are the odds-on favorites from the conference and have earned that positioning. However, if each of their playoff opponents will give them their best shot, they will need to do so with a full complement of players.

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Neither the Vikings nor Lions have anything of substance to play for on Sunday, and Detroit would be wise to go through the contest with that in mind.

Ted Schwerzler is a blogger from the Twin Cities that is focused on all things Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings. He’s active on Twitter and writes weekly for Twins Daily. As a former college athlete and avid sports fan, covering our pro teams with a passion has always seemed like such a natural outlet.