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Minnesota Vikings want to take advantage of luckless Detroit Lions on Sunday

By DAVE CAMPBELL

AP Pro Football Writer

EAGAN, Minn. — The Minnesota Vikings have found no more reliable remedy for their problems than the Detroit Lions, the team they have defeated far more than any other over their 60-plus years in the NFL.

The Vikings need a pick-me-up this week, after a third one-score loss in four games this season, and — as the luck of the schedule would have it — the Lions are due for their annual visit. The Vikings have won seven straight in the series they lead 78-39-2, an intra-division domination passed down through multiple generations.

Even more convenient this year is that the Lions are winless in their rebuild under new coach Dan Campbell, and a slim margin of error has been further reduced by a slew of injuries to vital players.

Ah, but the Vikings would be awfully foolish to assume the game Sunday will automatically serve as the antidote to their rough start. Just last season, after all, they were 1-4 with a pair of one-point losses entering a home game against a winless Atlanta team that had just fired its general manager and head coach. The Falcons blew them out 40-23.

Vikings coach Mike Zimmer has become accustomed to this October ritual of trying to resurrect a contender from a slow start. This is the seventh time in his eight years they have failed to post a winning record at the four-game mark, with the outlier in 2016 when they started 5-0.

“I firmly believe that this is a good football team,” Zimmer said, adding: “We’ve still got a lot of time left. We’ve just got to get going.”

The Vikings lost 27-24 at Cincinnati in overtime and 34-33 at Arizona when Greg Joseph missed a 37-yard field goal on the final play.

The Lions managed to top those excruciating defeats on Sept. 26, when Baltimore’s Justin Tucker made an NFL-record 66-yard field goal off the crossbar for a 19-17 victory made possible by a missed delay of game penalty that should have been called the play before.

“We have lost four in a row, but we do feel like we are improving, we are doing the right things in practice, we are making plays in the game,” Lions quarterback Jared Goff said. “How can we make them more often?”

LINE DANCE

Lions’ Pro Bowl center Frank Ragnow (toe) went on injured reserve this week, where veteran tackle Taylor Decker (finger) has been all season. The status of rookie tackle Penei Sewell (ankle) is in doubt for the game, too.

Evan Brown is expected to get the first start of his three-year, four-team career, in place of Ragnow.