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Detroit Lions (4-5) @ Carolina Panthers (3-7) (Sun. 1:00 PM EST, FOX) 

Adrian Peterson versus the Carolina rushing defense 

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Each team has injuries that will impact Sunday’s contest. It appears unlikely that Teddy Bridgewater starts for the Panthers on Sunday with a MCL sprain. Meanwhile, Matthew Stafford and Kenny Golladay are dealing with their own injuries, but Stafford will probably play. Then there’s D’Andre Swift, fresh off his best game this season, entered the concussion protocol in the middle of the week. 

There’s never been a better opportunity for Matt Patricia to play how he wants to. Patricia has the chance to make a defensive game plan against a backup quarterback. Then he has the chance to give Adrian Peterson up to 20 carries on Sunday. In reality, Peterson should have an opportunity to have a vintage game of his against a Carolina defense that has over 110 rushing yards in every game but two this season. 

The Lions desperately need another win to maintain any chance of that last playoff spot. If Patrcia can get a win by playing the way he wants to, it’ll sure help cool down his seat. 

Green Bay Packers (7-2) @ Indianapolis Colts (6-3) (Sun. 4:25 PM EST, FOX) 

The Packers secondary versus Philip Rivers

It’s easy to want to detail the matchup between the Packers offense and the Colts defense. Two of the best units in the league this season. Yet, it might not be the deciding factor between these two potential playoff teams. 

Phillip Rivers has had more influence on the Colts’ results this season than you might think. When Rivers doesn’t throw an interception, Indianapolis is 4-0 compared to 2-3 when he does turn it over. 

The Packers offense doesn’t need additional chances with the ball. However, Green Bay’s secondary, who expect the return of Jaire Alexander and Kevin King, could take advantage of the gunslinger and provide a few more chances for Aaron Rodgers and company to score against a tough defense. 

Dallas Cowboys (2-7) @ Minnesota Vikings (4-5) (Sun. 4:25 PM EST, FOX) 

The Vikings against themselves

The Vikings are playing well heading down the stretch. Now they get to play the mess that is the Dallas Cowboys. Minnesota should win this game on paper. Although, the way the Vikings lose it is probably by their own mistakes. 

Dallas’ defense is abysmal in 2020. Dalvin Cook, Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson could all have big games on Sunday. One item that could hold back Minnesota? Kirk Cousins. If this is a game Cousins throws barely over 10 times, Viking fans will probably be okay with it. As long as Cousins isn’t turning the ball over, he’ll be fine. 

The Cowboys offense hasn’t been the same following Dak Prescott’s injury. Zeke Elliott and the offensive line isn’t what it once was. Nevertheless, Dallas still has a talented trio of wide receivers in Amari Cooper, Ceedee Lamb and Michael Gallup. While Minnesota’s secondary has played far better lately, any of those receivers can make quiet an impact on the game. 

As long as Minnesota sticks to its identity, it’ll be fine against a struggling Cowboys team. 

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Brady Vernon is a recent graduate of Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications. He is currently pursuing a Master's degree through Gonzaga University. He is an avid sports fan with aspirations of being a NFL Beat Reporter or a role in a NFL front office. Follow him on Twitter @BradyVernon
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