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.