Free Press sports writers make their predictions for the Detroit Lions’ game against the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium (1 p.m., Fox) in Week 5 of the NFL season:
Dave Campbell held his fingers a sliver apart to illustrate how thin the Lions’ margin for error was when I sat down with him before the start of the season. The Lions had to do just about everything right, and stay healthy, to win games this year — and they have done neither through four weeks. They tend to play one good half and one miserable half of football, and their lack of depth is showing now that injuries have depleted their roster.
SCOUTING REPORT:Lions vs. Vikings on Sunday
Campbell and his staff will do their best to keep things close Sunday, relying on a heavy dose of the run and not taking many chances defensively. Ultimately, though, they don’t have enough to ward off Danielle Hunter and Everson Griffen up front, or stop Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen and perhaps Dalvin Cook on defense. For the first time since 2015, the Lions are looking at an 0-5 start. Pick: Vikings 21, Lions 14.
[ Lions rookie CB A.J. Parker already has the first scene of his biopic figured out ]
Even with all the injuries piling up for the Lions, this game could go either way. Vikings running back Dalvin Cook has been hampered while playing through an ankle injury and was not effective in last week’s 14-7 loss to the Cleveland Browns. If the Lions can get their run game going the way the Browns did en route to 184 rushing yards, they have a chance of controlling the clock and wearing down the Vikings’ slightly better than average defense. But playing at home and facing a tough upcoming slate against Carolina, Dallas, Baltimore, Chargers and Green Bay, this is almost a must-win for the 1-3 Vikings. You can bet Mike Zimmer will have them ready. Pick: Vikings 26, Lions 17.
TIPS FOR SUNDAY:Lions can’t afford to pass up points against Vikings
After this game, people will question: when will this team ever win a game? Quick answer: crickets. Even though the Lions have played hard, this is going to get ugly because of several Detroit injuries. More than anything, the Vikings will reveal how the Lions lack depth. No, how they lack everything. Pick: Vikings 35, Lions 21.
[ T.J. Hockenson, Penei Sewell return to practice, could play vs. Vikings ]
The injuries are mounting. So is the dismay, though after last week’s loss to the Bears the coach and the quarterback insisted the team won’t go numb. Dan Campbell deserves the benefit of the doubt, especially after watching his team get after it four straight weeks. That pluck is admirable, but won’t matter as Minnesota has more talent. Pick: Vikings 29, Lions 20.