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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

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Scoreboard
Local
Final
NCCU 65
EILL 40
Final
NCSU 60
BSU 54
Final
PIT 2
CAR 4
Final
CHA 101
GSW 106
Final
UF 64
UNC 75
Final
TULSA 32
ECU 49
 
12:30pm Today
UNC
NCSU
1:30pm Today
NARZ
NCCU
 
7:00pm Tonight
CAR
PIT
 
7:00pm Tonight
DUKE
WAKE
7:30pm Tonight
ATL
CHA
 
Final
BOS 102
CHI 109
Final
CHA 101
GSW 106
Final
TOR 102
DAL 106
Final
DET 88
MIL 104
 
Final
ATL 100
NOP 91
Final
HOU 85
LAC 102
Final
OKC 105
NYK 78
Final
IND 98
ORL 83
Final
SAN 112
SAC 104
Final
DEN 122
PHO 97
Final
POR 99
MEM 112
Final
LAL 119
MIN 120
 
7:00pm Tonight
PHI
DAL
 
7:00pm Tonight
WAS
NOP
 
7:30pm Tonight
ATL
CHA
 
7:30pm Tonight
CLE
IND
 
9:00pm Tonight
MIL
HOU
 
9:00pm Tonight
UTA
LAC
 
Final
WMICH 21
NILL 31
Final
SMU 9
HOU 35
Final
IOWA 34
NEB 37
Final
SFLA 0
UCF 16
Final
MARS 66
WKENT 67
Final
KSU 27
AKR 24
Final
BGU 24
BST 41
Final
UMASS 21
BUF 41
Final
EMICH 16
TOL 52
Final
MIZZ 21
ARK 14
Final
SALABAMA 40
NAVY 42
Final
ARZ 42
ARST 35
Final
AFA 27
COLST 24
Final
UCLA 10
STAN 31
Final
VT 24
UVA 20
Final
TULSA 32
ECU 49
 
12:00pm Today
TEMPL
CIN
12:00pm Today
UGA
GT
12:00pm Today
NW
ILL
12:00pm Today
LOU
KENT
12:00pm Today
OSU
MICH
12:00pm Today
TXSANANTO
UNT
12:00pm Today
FATL
ODU
12:00pm Today
IND
PURD
12:00pm Today
LATU
RICE
12:00pm Today
CLEM
SCAR
12:00pm Today
ISU
WVU
12:30pm Today
TROY
LALAF
12:30pm Today
UNC
NCSU
12:30pm Today
BC
SYR
1:00pm Today
COL
UTAH
2:00pm Today
APPST
IDAHO
2:00pm Today
GASTATE
TXST
3:00pm Today
ARKST
NMST
3:00pm Today
NMU
WYO
3:30pm Today
TTU
BAY
3:30pm Today
FSU
UF
3:30pm Today
PSU
MSU
3:30pm Today
WISC
MINN
3:30pm Today
MISS
MSST
3:30pm Today
USC
ND
3:30pm Today
MD
RUTG
3:30pm Today
SDST
SJST
3:30pm Today
SMISS
UAB
4:00pm Today
MEM
UCONN
4:00pm Today
KST
KU
4:00pm Today
VANDY
TENN
4:30pm Today
CAL
BYU
6:00pm Tonight
GASO
LAMON
7:00pm Tonight
FRES
HAW
7:00pm Tonight
UTEP
MTST
7:00pm Tonight
MIAMI
PITT
7:00pm Tonight
DUKE
WAKE
7:45pm Tonight
ALA
AUB
8:00pm Tonight
ORST
OREG
10:15pm Tonight
BSU
UTST
10:30pm Tonight
UNLV
NEV
10:30pm Tonight
WASU
WASH
Final
NCCU 65
EILL 40
Final
KU 82
TENN 67
Final
TEXAM 87
NO 65
 
Final
NCAT 57
RAD 65
 
Final
GEOR 58
BUT 64
Final
BRO 81
PVU 71
Final
RIU 66
SCU 44
Final
NARZ 70
SOUTH 63
Final
DART 68
MAST 67
Final
WRST 59
FIU 61
Final
XAV 73
UTEP 77
Final
OSU 73
JMU 56
Final
TXSOU 71
LAM 59
 
Final
TAMCC 75
MVSU 66
 
Final
AKAN 51
MIZST 55
Final
BUCK 80
PSU 88
 
Final
PROV 72
YALE 66
Final
UGA 62
MINN 66
Final
WISC 69
OKLA 56
Final
Terriers 70
NORST 72
 
Final
PEAY 62
STEPH 83
Final
FSU 58
CSOU 47
 
Final
VALPO 66
DRAK 46
Final
CIN 69
MTST 51
Final
SDU 75
PRIN 65
Final
WASU 76
RICE 74
Final
CSFU 64
USCU 79
Final
GT 61
RIDE 54
Final
TXPA 79
ALAST 91
Final
NCSU 60
BSU 54
Final
TCU 57
BRAD 49
Final
WAKE 65
DELST 72
 
Final
HART 83
EMERSON 50
 
Final
STJ 66
GONZ 73
Final
CLEM 62
HIGH 59
 
Final
SYR 72
HC 48
 
Final
MD 61
MON 56
Final
JVST 74
SAV 71
 
Final
MIAMI 87
SALA 75
Final
RUTG 68
VANDY 65
Final
PETE 66
TENST 58
Final
MARS 59
CLST 68
Final
JST 56
HOF 86
 
Final
INDST 62
MEM 72
Final
UF 64
UNC 75
Final
LATU 77
SAMF 64
Final
TULA 71
SELA 61
 
Final
NEB 75
TENNM 64
Final
MISS 75
CREI 68
Final
PORT 64
MURST 61
Final
MARQ 68
MSU 79
Final
ARK 89
UNT 73
Final
NCOL 82
STET 62
 
Final
IND 87
UNCG 79
Final
SJST 60
WMICH 79
Final
MNTST 104
TXARL 81
Final
UVA 64
LAS 56
Final
STLU 50
MSST 75
Final
COLST 75
PAC 64
Final
UTAH 90
NDAK 53
Final
ILL 62
BAY 54
 
Final
UAB 76
UCLA 88
2nd
WASH 64
LBSU 65
 
2nd
UCSB 30
MERC 20
 
11:00am Today
SOUTH
EILL
 
11:30am Today
NCAT
MVSU
 
12:00pm Today
KNST
CHAT
 
1:00pm Today
ND
CHIST
 
1:00pm Today
IUPUI
UGST
 
1:00pm Today
NAVY
RFLSH
 
1:00pm Today
UMBC
TOWS
 
1:00pm Today
CITA
WWLSN
 
1:30pm Today
NARZ
NCCU
 
2:00pm Today
GWEBB
BREV
 
2:00pm Today
BING
CORN
 
2:00pm Today
DAY
ILLCH
 
2:00pm Today
SFLA
JVU
 
2:00pm Today
MORE
KYCHR
 
2:00pm Today
HARV
UMASS
 
2:00pm Today
DAVID
UNCW
 
2:00pm Today
DUQ
YALE
 
2:00pm Today
NEOM
NEV
 
2:00pm Today
USB
STTHOM
 
2:00pm Today
NIAG
BONA
 
2:00pm Today
RAD
TAMCC
 
2:00pm Today
ODU
VCU
 
2:07pm Today
IOWA
LONG
 
2:30pm Today
GSOUT
SCST
 
3:00pm Today
NE
FAIR
 
3:00pm Today
OU
TOL
 
3:00pm Today
WICHS
TULSA
 
3:00pm Today
ILLST
YOUNG
 
3:30pm Today
CSFU
FIU
 
4:00pm Today
UCR
ABCHRIST
 
4:00pm Today
CLMB
AMER
 
4:00pm Today
ARKLR
CARK
 
4:00pm Today
UWMIL
CONCORDSP
 
4:00pm Today
SHU
GWU
 
4:00pm Today
HOW
GWYNEDD
 
4:00pm Today
FORD
MDES
 
4:00pm Today
GMAS
MAN
 
4:00pm Today
NWST
MOVAL
 
4:00pm Today
MICH
NICST
 
4:00pm Today
WAGN
PENN
 
4:00pm Today
AKAN
TBA
 
4:05pm Today
SILL
OLIV
 
4:15pm Today
CAN
BUF
 
4:30pm Today
PBY
BOBJONES
 
4:30pm Today
TBA
TBA
 
4:30pm Today
WMARY
WOFF
 
5:00pm Tonight
STET
FAM
 
5:00pm Tonight
CREI
MTST
 
5:30pm Tonight
SHSU
USW
 
6:00pm Tonight
CMICH
GRCN
 
6:00pm Tonight
DRAK
PORT
 
6:00pm Tonight
NDAK
TXPA
 
6:00pm Tonight
USCU
WRST
 
6:15pm Tonight
TBA
MIZST
 
6:30pm Tonight
UNLV
GTDNS
 
6:30pm Tonight
WYO
NMST
 
7:00pm Tonight
SEMIZ
ALAAM
 
7:00pm Tonight
OHIO
BEL
 
7:00pm Tonight
KSU
LOYC
 
7:00pm Tonight
GHND
SIENA
 
7:00pm Tonight
TBA
TBA
 
7:00pm Tonight
TBA
TBA
 
7:30pm Tonight
WVU
COC
 
8:00pm Tonight
HOUB
DCHR
 
8:00pm Tonight
LSU
MCNST
 
8:05pm Tonight
WILL
GVIL
 
8:05pm Tonight
UMKC
WMJEWELL
 
8:30pm Tonight
TBA
TBA
 
8:30pm Tonight
MURST
VALPO
 
9:00pm Tonight
UTAH
ALAST
 
9:00pm Tonight
ARST
COL
 
9:00pm Tonight
TBA
TBA
 
9:30pm Tonight
BYU
EKENT
 
9:30pm Tonight
TBA
TBA
 
10:00pm Tonight
SEAT
CSNO
 
10:00pm Tonight
GAELS
CPSL
 
10:00pm Tonight
IDAHO
NKENTUCKY
 
10:00pm Tonight
UCD
WLVRN
 
11:00pm Tonight
LMU
UCI
 
11:30pm Tonight
TBA
TBA
 
Final
PHI 0
NYR 3
Final
ANA 1
CHI 4
Final
WAS 5
NYI 2
Final
PIT 2
CAR 4
Final
NJD 4
DET 5
Final
BUF 2
MON 1
Final
CLB 0
VAN 5
Final
BOS 2
WIN 1
Final
FLA 3
OTT 2
Final
STL 4
EDM 3
Final
DAL 4
MIN 5
1:00pm Today
NYR
PHI
 
7:00pm Tonight
MON
BUF
 
7:00pm Tonight
NYI
NJD
 
7:00pm Tonight
TAM
OTT
 
7:00pm Tonight
CAR
PIT
 
7:00pm Tonight
TOR
WAS
 
8:00pm Tonight
NAS
CLB
 
8:00pm Tonight
MIN
STL
 
9:00pm Tonight
COL
DAL
 
10:00pm Tonight
ARI
CAL
 
10:00pm Tonight
LOS
CHI
 
10:30pm Tonight
SJS
ANA