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Preview: Lions at Vikings

Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer before the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Oct. 24 at U.S. Bank Stadium. (Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports)

The Sports Xchange

The Minnesota Vikings again will be without quarterback Sam Bradford when they host the Detroit Lions for a key NFC North contest on Sunday. Luckily for the Vikings, the offense has operated just fine regardless of who has been under center.

Minnesota ranks second in the league in total offense and has been impressive in two home games — both wins — regardless of whether Bradford or Case Keenum was at the helm.

“They both throw great balls,” Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph told reporters. “They both had incredible success throwing the football, and when we block teams up and let them sit back there with time, we have guys on the outside that are going to get open.”

Keenum will try to exploit a Detroit defense that has given up plenty of yardage but has limited the damage by forcing eight turnovers through three games. The Lions swept the season series in 2016, but the two games were decided by a total of nine points.

TV: noon, FOX.

LINE: Vikings -2. O/U: 42.5

About the Lions (2-1)

Detroit’s only loss was a 30-26 defeat against defending NFC champion Atlanta last week, and the Lions have been balanced all around.

The once boom-or-bust offense has been efficient with Matthew Stafford throwing seven touchdowns and only one interception and Ameer Abdullah leading the ground game.

Detroit has plenty of concerns with its pass defense, which ranks 22nd in the league, but the secondary also has produced seven interceptions.

About the Vikings (2-1)

Minnesota might have been more eager to rush Bradford back from a lingering knee injury if Keenum hadn’t thrown for a career-high 369 yards and three touchdowns in last week’s 34-17 win over Tampa Bay.

Keenum is surrounded with weapons, including the league’s No. 2 rusher in rookie Dalvin Cook (288 yards) and two of the NFL’s top three receivers in Adam Thielen (299 yards) and Stefon Diggs (293).

The Vikings have been dominant against the run but rank 27th versus the pass and will have a tough challenge in trying to limit Stafford and the Lions.

Extra points

1. Stafford has recorded 17 touchdowns and four interceptions in his last 11 games against Minnesota.

2. Rudolph has caught a touchdown pass in each of his last three home meetings with Detroit.

3. Thielen has 14 receptions for 255 yards in his last two home games.

PREDICTION: Lions 31, Vikings 28.

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