NFL

more stats

NFL Preview - Detroit (7-8) at Minnesota (4-10-1)



By John McMullen, NFL Editor

(SportsNetwork.com) - "Black Monday" looms for both Detroit's Jim Schwartz and Minnesota's Leslie Frazier.

They two embattled head coaches could be leading their respective teams for the final time on Sunday as the Vikings close Mall of America Field by hosting the disappointing Lions.

Minnesota has beaten Detroit more than any other opponent in Metrodome history, holding a 23-7 record against the Lions since the building opened in 1982.

The Vikings in fact have a winning mark against each of their division opponents at Mall of America Field, with a record of 20-11 against the Chicago Bears and a 16-15 mark against the Green Bay Packers. Things have turned sour recently under Frazier, however, and the team will be finishing up its second dismal campaign in three full seasons with the embattled mentor at the helm.

Sunday's contest will be the 250th regular-season game in the stadium and the 260th overall, including playoffs. The Vikings hold an impressive 167-92 overall mark in the dome. Frazier, though, is just 20-33-1 as the Vikes' head coach.

"For our players, it's important that they focus on the task," Frazier said when talking about his employment prospects after Sunday's game. "That's what I'm asking them to do, and I need to do the same thing. It's very, very important if you want to have a chance to win these games down the stretch that I stay focused on what's involved with leading our team, and I want them to follow. It's important I handle it the right way."

Minnesota will be moving to the University of Minnesota's TCF Bank Stadium for the next two seasons as their new home is being built.

The Lions' Schwartz also finds himself in a difficult spot. Many feel Detroit is the most talented team in the NFC North but the team imploded down the stretch and failed to take advantage of the extended absences of Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers and Chicago's Jay Cutler.

The Lions have dropped five of their last six, the latest of which, a 23-20 overtime setback to the New York Giants in Week 16, knocked them out of playoff contention for the second straight season.

Josh Brown's 45-yard field goal midway through the extra frame officially eliminated the fading Lions and his three field goals in all helped the Giants prevail despite mustering just two first downs and 57 total yards in the second half.

New York overcame its offensive woes by scoring 17 points off three Detroit turnovers, none bigger than Will Hill's 38-yard touchdown return off a Matt Stafford interception that tied the game at 20-20 with 4:57 left in regulation.

Stafford threw a pair of picks while putting up 222 yards on 25-of-42 passing in the loss, the fifth in six games for Detroit in which the Lions blew a fourth-quarter lead in each.

"This is very disappointing," said Schwartz. "It's hard to take when every game is close. That's the thing that makes it difficult."

Joique Bell was one bright spot in the Lions' latest frustrating defeat, tallying 154 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown that included a 10-catch, 63-yard effort.

The Vikings seemed to be heading in the right direction after finally giving up on Christian Ponder at quarterback and moving to veteran Matt Cassel but that came off the rails in Cincinnati last week as Andy Dalton torched one of the game's worst defenses in a 42-14 Bengals win.

Cassel was held to 114 yards passing, one score to Jarius Wright and three interceptions on 13-of-27 passing for the Vikings, who failed to maintain momentum from their 48-point performance against the Eagles the previous week.

"We really stunk it up today. This was a disappointing loss," offered Cassel.

Adrian Peterson returned after a one-game absence due to a foot injury and was limited to 45 yards on 11 carries. Rookie star Cordarrelle Patterson added a rushing touchdown in defeat.

The Lions opened the season with a 34-24 home win over the Vikings at Ford Field, but they have lost 14 of 15 in Minneapolis.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

The Lions have a dismal minus-15 turnover differential over the last six games, playing into the undisciplined tag the team has earned under Schwartz.

Stafford's inconsistency and continued poor mechanics have been at the forefront of the slump. He's thrown 11 of his 19 interceptions over the past five weeks and the current thinking is that Detroit needs a coach adept at handling quarterbacks to get the most out of the former No. 1 overall pick.

Minnesota doesn't have the secondary to take advantage of Stafford's mistakes, though. The Vikings give up am embarrassing 408.0 yards per game thanks in large part to the problems on the back end, a further black mark on Frazier's resume because he is a defensive coach who started his NFL coaching career handling defensive backs.

Many believe Frazier's reliance on the Tampa-2 scheme is an antiquated philosophy and one which simply can't succeed in today's NFL.

The only real reason to watch this game -- the brilliance of Lions' receiver Calvin Johnson and Peterson -- also probably won't be in play.

Peterson is hoping to play in the Metrodome finale but he's been severely limited with a sprained right foot and he's unlikely to stick around long even if he gives it a go.

Johnson, meanwhile, is battling with nagging knee and ankle issues and could be shelved.

"His knee was bothering him and his ankle was a problem," Schwartz said. "We were trying to use him in the red zone and on third downs, but he wasn't close to 100 percent."

OVERALL ANALYSIS

This could and probably should serve as the swan song for both coaches. It's hard to justify what Frazier, a supposed defensive mind, has done with the Vikings' defense. On the other hand Schwartz deserves some credit for building an 0-16 team back into relevance but Stafford is regressing under his watch and the Lions are becoming yearly underachievers.

The final score here is irrelevant but give Minnesota the edge because they usually handle Detroit in the Gopher State.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Vikings 24, Lions 17

12/27 11:50:36 ET

Other Stories

Schedule

Full Scoreboard
No games this week
Full Scoreboard

Standings

 2013 American Football Conference Standings 
East Division W L T Pct. PF PA Home Away Div Conf
y-New England 12 4 0 .750 444 338 8-0 4-4 4-2 9-3
NY Jets 8 8 0 .500 290 387 6-2 2-6 3-3 5-7
Miami 8 8 0 .500 317 335 4-4 4-4 2-4 7-5
Buffalo 6 10 0 .375 339 388 4-4 2-6 3-3 5-7
 
North Division W L T Pct. PF PA Home Away Div Conf
y-Cincinnati 11 5 0 .688 430 305 8-0 3-5 3-3 8-4
Pittsburgh 8 8 0 .500 379 370 5-3 3-5 4-2 6-6
Baltimore 8 8 0 .500 320 352 6-2 2-6 3-3 6-6
Cleveland 4 12 0 .250 308 406 3-5 1-7 2-4 3-9
 
South Division W L T Pct. PF PA Home Away Div Conf
y-Indianapolis 11 5 0 .688 391 336 6-2 5-3 6-0 9-3
Tennessee 7 9 0 .438 362 381 3-5 4-4 2-4 6-6
Jacksonville 4 12 0 .250 247 449 1-7 3-5 3-3 4-8
Houston 2 14 0 .125 276 428 1-7 1-7 1-5 2-10
 
West Division W L T Pct. PF PA Home Away Div Conf
y-Denver 13 3 0 .813 606 399 7-1 6-2 5-1 9-3
x-Kansas City 11 5 0 .688 430 305 5-3 6-2 2-4 7-5
x-San Diego 9 7 0 .563 396 348 5-3 4-4 4-2 6-6
Oakland 4 12 0 .250 322 453 3-5 1-7 1-5 4-8
 
x= clinched playoff berth
y= clinched division title
 2013 National Football Conference Standings 
East Division W L T Pct. PF PA Home Away Div Conf
y-Philadelphia 10 6 0 .625 442 382 4-4 6-2 4-2 9-3
Dallas 8 8 0 .500 439 432 5-3 3-5 5-1 7-5
NY Giants 7 9 0 .438 294 383 4-4 3-5 3-3 6-6
Washington 3 13 0 .188 334 478 2-6 1-7 0-6 1-11
 
North Division W L T Pct. PF PA Home Away Div Conf
y-Green Bay 8 7 1 .531 417 428 4-3-1 4-4 3-2-1 6-5-1
Chicago 8 8 0 .500 445 478 5-3 3-5 2-4 4-8
Detroit 7 9 0 .438 395 376 4-4 3-5 4-2 6-6
Minnesota 5 10 1 .344 391 480 5-3 0-7-1 2-3-1 4-7-1
 
South Division W L T Pct. PF PA Home Away Div Conf
y-Carolina 12 4 0 .750 366 241 7-1 5-3 5-1 9-3
x-New Orleans 11 5 0 .688 414 304 8-0 3-5 5-1 9-3
Atlanta 4 12 0 .250 353 443 3-5 1-7 1-5 3-9
Tampa Bay 4 12 0 .250 288 389 3-5 1-7 1-5 2-10
 
West Division W L T Pct. PF PA Home Away Div Conf
y-Seattle 13 3 0 .813 417 231 7-1 6-2 4-2 10-2
x-San Francisco 12 4 0 .750 406 272 6-2 6-2 5-1 9-3
Arizona 10 6 0 .625 379 324 6-2 4-4 2-4 6-6
St. Louis 7 9 0 .438 348 364 5-3 2-6 1-5 4-8
 
x= clinched playoff berth
y= clinched division title
  • NASL: RailHawks vs. Ft. Lauderdale

    Tomorrow at 7:30 am on WRAL-2

  • PGA: RBC Heritage

    Tomorrow at 3:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • PGA: RBC Heritage

    Sunday at 3:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • PGA: Zurich Classic of New Orleans

    Saturday at 3:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • MLB: Atlanta Braves at NY Mets

    Tomorrow at 7:05 pm on 99.9 The Fan

  • MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Boston Red Sox

    Sunday at 7:05 pm on 99.9 The Fan

Scoreboard
Local
Final
DUR 3
NOR 2
 
7:05pm Tonight
NOR
DUR
 
Final
PHI 1
ATL 0
Final
DET 7
CLE 5
Final
MIN 7
TOR 0
Final
TEX 8
SEA 6
Final
SFG 1
LOS 2
Final
SDP 1
COL 3
Final
PIT 11
MIL 2
Final
WAS 0
STL 8
Final
TAM 2
NYY 10
Final
MIN 9
TOR 5
Final
CWS 1
BOS 3
Final
HOU 1
KAN 5
2:20pm Today
CHC
CIN
 
7:05pm Tonight
PIT
MIL
 
7:05pm Tonight
WAS
STL
 
7:05pm Tonight
CLE
TOR
 
7:08pm Tonight
DET
ANA
 
7:10pm Tonight
NYM
ATL
 
7:10pm Tonight
BOS
BAL
 
7:10pm Tonight
TAM
NYY
 
7:10pm Tonight
MIA
SEA
 
8:05pm Tonight
TEX
CWS
 
8:10pm Tonight
KAN
MIN
 
8:40pm Tonight
COL
PHI
 
10:05pm Tonight
OAK
HOU
 
10:10pm Tonight
LOS
ARI
 
10:10pm Tonight
SDP
SFG
 
Final
NYR 4
PHI 1
Final
STL 4
CHI 3
Final
COL 5
MIN 4
Final
SJS 6
LOS 3
7:00pm Tonight
TAM
MON
7:30pm Tonight
BOS
DET
10:00pm Tonight
ANA
DAL
Final
DUR 3
NOR 2
 
7:05pm Tonight
NOR
DUR