What are the Minnesota Vikings players and coaches talking about ahead of Sunday's Week 14 matchup against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field? Let's find out:
1. The Lions and Vikings square off for the second time this season on Sunday with quite a bit on the line for both teams. The Vikings can clinch the NFC North with a win. The Lions are trying to keep their playoff hopes alive in the NFC at 5-7.
"It's going to be a real big challenge for us," Vikings head coach Kevin O'Connell said this week, via Vikings.com. "We understand that we're playing a really good football team that's playing some of the best football of their season, and you have to give a lot of credit to Dan (Campbell) and his staff and that team.
"When you turn on the tape, you see a really good football team in all three phases. You can see the confidence coming through and where they're headed as a football team, so we've got to play one of our best games this week in my opinion to give ourselves a chance to go get our 11th win and leave no doubt in becoming the NFC North champions for this season, but it's going to be a heck of a challenge and we know that."
2. Vikings running back Alexander Mattison said Minnesota is treating Sunday like just another game, despite what's on the line for them.
"We want to go 1-0 this week," he said. "There's just an extra cherry on the top at the end of the day, and we just understand that it's even a better feeling to have the opportunity to go down to Detroit and put that stamp on it if we can."
3. Sunday is the first time the Vikings or the Lions are playing a division opponent for the second time this season. In the first matchup Week 3, the Vikings didn't record a single sack and only hit Lions quarterback Jared Goff twice.
"At the end of the day for us as an edge department we just have to continue to rush him," Vikings defensive end D.J. Wonnum said this week of trying to get more pressure on Goff this time around. "We are going to get those one-on-one opportunities. The quick (passing) game, there's not much we can do there, but just keep rushing and keep going and keep being relentless and fighting."
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4. Minnesota has won 10 games this season, the last nine of which have been secured by one score. They're the first team in NFL history to win that many one-score games (9-0) to start a season.
"We're comfortable in these situations," right tackle Brian O'Neill told ESPN "Ideally you want to win by more. But let's be honest, we're going to be in those situations again moving forward, and if we can handle it maturely, and if we can stay laser-focused the whole time, we'll be fine."
The Lions have lost five one-score games this season, including their Week 3 matchup in Minneapolis against the Vikings, 28-24.
5. The Vikings have only scored 34 points in the third quarter this season, which ranks 29th in the NFL, per Vikings.com. Defensively, the Vikings allow the second highest points in the third quarter to their opponents at 86. Detroit's 104 are the highest.
It's safe to say the third quarter will be key Sunday at Ford Field.
"I think it sure falls on me," O'Connell said this week of having to be better in the third quarter of games. "I feel as much as anybody, if not more than anybody, it falls on me to make sure I figure out ways to help where we can and then giving our players a chance to go make plays in those moments to get the momentum reestablished."
The Vikings allowed the Jets to creep back to within 20-15 after having a 20-6 halftime lead last week before going on to win 27-22.
6. Starting rookie cornerback Akayleb Evans is out vs. Detroit, O'Connell said this week. He suffered two concussions in the past four weeks and a total of three since joining the team.
"Before Akayleb plays again, we want to make sure it's 100 percent the right timing for him," O'Connell said.
The Vikings are hoping to get cornerback Cam Dantzler (ankle) back from IR this week.