Vikings vs. Lions: 6 Keys to the Game for Minnesota

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Vikings vs. Lions: 6 Keys to the Game for Minnesota
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The NFC North enters Week 4 shaken up, with a team that was in the basement sitting atop the division and playoff darlings from last year working to prove that they are better than their record.

The Minnesota Vikings will have a challenge when they travel to Detroit, where they'll confront the stars of Ford Field as 4.5-point underdogs.

That doesn't tell the whole story, however, as some of the most predictive statistics give a small (six percent) edge to the Vikings, even after accounting for home-field advantage. The Vikings stand as a much more efficient team, standing 10 ranks higher in common efficiency scores, a surprising place for a team that just two weeks ago felt they were on a long and bumpy road.

Nevertheless, while past performance can give us a glimpse into the future, the game still needs to be played on the field. The Vikings still haven't proven they can achieve consistent success, and their Week 2 loss to the Colts is still hanging over their heads, even as they shoot up the power rankings.

The Vikings have clearly established an identity as a ball-control team on offense. On defense, the Vikings are still finding ways to establish themselves, but strong play from their linebackers has allowed them to be relatively consistent in stopping the run and the pass. They rank 13th against the run and eighth against the pass.

The Vikings have several markers they'll have to hit to be successful against the Lions. While some are more important that others, all should be goals heading into Sunday's game.

Here they are.

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