Dec 25, 2020; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) looks to throw in the first quarter against the New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

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Vikings, Lions ready to wrap up disappointing seasons

The season finale between the Minnesota Vikings and Detroit Lions will not only lack drama, it will be played without the biggest star for either team.

Vikings All-Pro running back Dalvin Cook won’t travel to Detroit due to the death of his father James. Cook has rushed for 1,557 yards and 16 touchdowns while averaging 5.0 yards per carry.

Minnesota (6-9) was officially eliminated from playoff contention last week with a 52-33 loss to New Orleans on Christmas Day. The Vikings will try to avoid finishing the season on a four-game slide.

Detroit (5-10) has dropped seven of its last nine, including a 47-7 thrashing by Tampa Bay on Saturday.

Minnesota quarterback Kirk Cousins, who needs 140 passing yards on Sunday to reach the 4,000-yard mark this season, sees some value in collecting a Week 17 victory.

“We want to finish strong,” he said. “I heard this morning that it’s important we don’t use this as the last game of this year but as the first game of 2021. That will kind of help us to focus on where we’re headed and what we’re trying to build, trying to get 2021 started off on the right foot.”

Cousins has turned his season around after a slow start, throwing 21 touchdown passes compared to three interceptions over the last nine games. He was picked off 12 times during the first six games when Minnesota won just one game.

“I do look at it and see there was an improvement after the bye week in terms of turnovers but if you don’t have those turnovers earlier in the year, maybe you don’t start 1-5,” he said.

Cook will be replaced by a combination of Ameer Abdullah, Mike Boone and Alexander Mattison.

The Vikings’ run defense has fallen apart the last two games, allowing Chicago’s David Montgomery to rush for 146 yards and two touchdowns and New Orleans’ Alvin Kamara to pile up 155 yards and six touchdowns.

Detroit’s injury-riddled defense has allowed 30 or more points in the last five games. The Buccaneers could have easily scored more than 47 points last weekend if they hadn’t eased up and used backups most of the second half.

At least the Lions will have some semblance of a coaching staff for the finale. Due to COVID-19 protocols, a majority of the staff was forced to miss the Bucs game, including interim head coach Darrell Bevell.

“Very strange experience,” Bevell said. “I would probably use the word helpless, as you’re sitting there just watching it on TV. I really felt like I needed to be there. I wanted to be there.”

The Lions’ offense looked helpless as well after quarterback Matthew Stafford hobbled off during the first quarter with an ankle injury.

Bevell hasn’t completely ruled out Stafford for Sunday’s game, though it seems unlikely he’ll play. He’s also battling a rib injury and didn’t practice on Wednesday. If he can’t go, Chase Daniel or Daniel Blough would get the call.

“With Matthew, I think the best thing for him is he’s got the best feel and read for his body,” Bevell said. “So we’ll continue to progress like we normally do with him. Some of the other injuries are resolving, so we’ll see how this injury on his ankle resolves by the end of the week.”

–Field Level Media

“With Matthew, I think the best thing for him is he’s got the best feel and read for his body,” Bevell said. “So we’ll continue to progress like we normally do with him. Some of the other injuries are resolving, so we’ll see how this injury on his ankle resolves by the end of the week.”

–Field Level Media

Field Level Media
Sport Writer & Editor
FLM has a North American focus while tying into regional and hyper-local resources – providing the ability to distribute compelling content through the writing of professional journalists. As the U.S. sports content provider to dozens of digital and print media publishers through strategic partnerships with the likes of Reuters and Nielsen Sports, FLM covers the nuts and bolts with a breaking news desk and game event coverage.

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