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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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Local
Final
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Final
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TULA 6
 
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4:00pm Today
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CHA
 
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CLE 93
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Final
MIN 101
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Final
SAN 99
BRK 87
Final
MIL 100
WAS 111
Final
UTA 94
NOP 106
6:00pm Tonight
MIA
CHA
 
6:00pm Tonight
MEM
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6:00pm Tonight
BOS
POR
 
7:00pm Tonight
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9:30pm Tonight
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Final
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OSU 42
IND 27
Final
OKLA 44
KU 7
Final
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Final
NEB 24
MINN 28
Final
PURD 14
NW 38
 
Final
ILL 16
PSU 14
Final
MSU 45
RUTG 3
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UCF 53
SMU 7
 
Final
SCAR 37
SALABAMA 12
Final
WKENT 45
TXSANANTO 7
 
Final
WAKE 6
VT 3
 
Final
ODU 30
LATU 27
Final
ARST 52
WASU 31
Final
CMICH 20
WMICH 32
 
Final
COLST 58
NMU 20
Final
LALAF 16
APPST 35
Final
BST 45
EMICH 30
Final
HOU 38
TULSA 28
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UTAH 10
ARZ 42
Final
FSU 20
BC 17
Final
UNT 17
FIU 14
 
Final
CLEM 28
GASTATE 0
 
Final
ND 28
LOU 31
 
Final
MICH 16
MD 23
 
Final
ARK 30
MISS 0
Final
PITT 30
SYR 7
Final
ISU 31
TTU 34
 
Final
ECU 34
TULA 6
 
Final
IOWA 24
WISC 26
Final
MEM 31
SFLA 20
Final
CAL 17
STAN 38
Final
NMST 17
LAMON 30
Final
ALA 48
WCAR 14
Final
OREG 44
COL 10
Final
MTST 35
FATL 34
Final
UVA 30
MIAMI 13
Final
AUB 31
SAMF 7
Final
TENN 21
MIZZ 29
Final
BAY 49
OKST 28
Final
MSST 51
VANDY 0
Final
UCONN 0
CIN 41
Final
UCLA 38
USC 20
Final
WYO 14
BSU 63
Final
NEV 20
FRES 40
 
Final
WASH 37
ORST 13
Final
HAW 37
UNLV 35
 
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INCWORD 79
 
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UMASS 68
ND 81
Final
GEOR 80
RMU 66
 
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LAS 59
PETE 50
Final
VT 63
APP 65
 
Final
IUPUI 71
BST 69
Final
WMICH 91
DRAK 75
 
Final
RICH 80
HIGH 56
 
Final
MSST 71
UTST 63
Final
CAMP 48
COL 54
 
Final
DAVID 72
UNC 90
Final
NIOWA 66
UNF 49
 
Final
CSNO 79
SAMF 72
 
Final
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MLOWELL 63
 
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NEV 50
CLEM 59
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FSU 54
 
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DET 66
SALA 53
 
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TXST 67
 
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WSCO 60
 
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MTST 66
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ARKLR 73
UMKC 68
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GHND 39
 
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SD 68
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MAN 78
BING 63
 
Final
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MILES 71
 
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WRST 86
 
Final
CITA 81
BOBJONES 50
 
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INDST 78
BRO 66
 
Final
WYO 56
COL 33
 
Final
GSOUT 97
FCCOL 41
 
Final
CCAR 76
PIEDINT 33
 
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LATU 63
AMER 44
 
Final
MAR 62
ARMY 76
 
Final
TENT 69
CHAT 67
Final
EKENT 115
CLERMONT 50
 
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SMU 77
EWASH 68
Final
NIAG 62
HART 65
 
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PENN 77
LAF 83
 
Final
UCSB 91
MASTERS 45
 
Final
BUCK 69
MNTER 73
 
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VMI 93
UNCW 110
 
Final
RIU 66
NEB 62
Final
NKENTUCKY 98
OHMWSTRN 48
 
Final
GTDNS 73
QUIN 76
 
Final
EMICH 70
UNCG 62
Final
ETST 98
UNCA 87
 
Final
TEMPL 50
UNLV 57
 
Final
STJOE 68
VERM 60
 
Final
MON 65
CCST 50
Final
KSU 78
ILLCH 60
Final
FAIR 60
SHSU 74
Final
LIP 74
TRANSYLVAN 63
 
Final
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UCD 58
Final
WKENT 63
BEL 64
Final
NDST 74
HAMP 66
 
Final
IND 85
LAM 72
 
Final
TTU 80
MIZST 68
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HOU 72
MRGST 57
 
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NAVY 44
NE 68
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OAKW 61
 
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WILL 60
SELA 57
 
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TULA 89
SONO 45
 
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TXPA 82
A 77
 
Final
RICE 65
WMARY 69
Final
TXARL 87
HOUB 69
 
Final
MINN 69
UMBC 51
 
Final
UTEP 77
NMST 76
 
Final
GONZ 109
STTHOM 55
Final
SUTAH 75
WLVRN 85
 
Final
PBY 49
MORE 69
 
Final
DUKE 70
STAN 59
Final
WISC 78
BSU 54
Final
PORT 75
SIUE 53
9:30am Today
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VALPO
 
11:30am Today
GMAS
COC
 
12:00pm Today
FSU
UMASS
 
12:00pm Today
SHSU
WOFF
 
12:00pm Today
UNCG
YOUNG
 
12:30pm Today
CMICH
ARKPB
 
1:00pm Today
ILLCH
SILL
 
1:30pm Today
MORE
AMER
 
1:30pm Today
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2:00pm Today
CCST
COOK
 
2:00pm Today
ARKLR
CSNO
 
2:00pm Today
LEH
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2:00pm Today
USB
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2:00pm Today
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SD
 
2:00pm Today
NMU
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2:00pm Today
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TAMCC
 
2:30pm Today
EMICH
LONG
 
2:30pm Today
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PROV
 
3:00pm Today
RAD
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3:00pm Today
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3:00pm Today
UAB
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3:00pm Today
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NWM
 
3:00pm Today
OKLA
NWST
 
3:30pm Today
PSU
USC
 
3:30pm Today
KSU
YALE
 
4:00pm Today
CREI
NCCU
 
4:00pm Today
NCSU
SFLA
 
4:00pm Today
UCR
STKAT
 
4:05pm Today
HC
NICHOLSCOL
 
4:30pm Today
BC
DAY
 
4:30pm Today
MON
TOWS
 
4:30pm Today
SAMF
UMKC
 
4:30pm Today
HOF
WAGN
 
5:00pm Tonight
CIN
EILL
 
5:00pm Tonight
UGA
FATL
 
5:00pm Tonight
BRAD
NCAT
 
5:00pm Tonight
LATU
PBY
 
5:00pm Tonight
RUTG
Terriers
 
5:30pm Tonight
NAVY
BING
 
6:00pm Tonight
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6:00pm Tonight
UNT
IONA
 
6:00pm Tonight
KENT
MNTST
 
6:00pm Tonight
FORD
MLOWELL
 
6:00pm Tonight
UCF
USCU
 
6:30pm Tonight
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AKR
 
6:30pm Tonight
WVU
UCONN
 
7:00pm Tonight
CALST
DEL
 
7:00pm Tonight
HOW
HOOD
 
7:00pm Tonight
OSU
SHU
 
7:00pm Tonight
VANDY
TENST
 
8:00pm Tonight
NE
MAN
 
8:00pm Tonight
COLST
MERC
 
8:00pm Tonight
MISS
NARZ
 
8:00pm Tonight
WASH
PAC
 
8:00pm Tonight
LMU
SDCHR
 
9:00pm Tonight
CHAR
MIAMI
 
9:00pm Tonight
ILLST
ODU
 
9:00pm Tonight
GAELS
UCI
 
10:00pm Tonight
UCLA
LBSU
 
10:30pm Tonight
SEAT
MONT
 
Final
OTT 2
STL 3
Final
WAS 1
BUF 2
Final
PHI 4
CLB 2
Final
TOR 4
DET 1
 
Final
TAM 2
MIN 1
Final
BOS 0
MON 2
 
Final
NYI 4
PIT 1
 
Final
NAS 3
FLA 2
Final
DAL 5
LOS 4
Final
COL 4
CAR 3
Final
EDM 1
CHI 7
Final
CAL 5
NJD 4
Final
SJS 3
ARI 4
4:30pm Today
WIN
STL
 
7:00pm Tonight
NYR
MON
 
8:00pm Tonight
ANA
ARI
 
9:30pm Tonight
VAN
CHI
 
1:00pm Today
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CIN
1:00pm Today
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CLE
1:00pm Today
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1:00pm Today
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GBP
1:00pm Today
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1:00pm Today
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1:00pm Today
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4:05pm Today
SEA
ARI
4:05pm Today
SDC
STL
4:25pm Today
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4:25pm Today
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WAS
8:30pm Tonight
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DAL
Final
NCCU 21
NCA 14