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Vikings overpower Lions, take control of NFC North

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In the first of three Thanksgiving Day tilts, the high-flying Vikings (9-2) proved too powerful for the Lions (6-5), who head home for supper sitting three games behind their purple-clad rivals in the NFC North. Here's what we learned from Minnesota's 30-23 win over Detroit:

1. This game mimicked countless Lions games previous, with Matthew Stafford facing deficits of 13-0, 20-3 and 27-10, but refusing to cave in. The Lions quarterback wiped away the memory of an ugly first half with a beautiful 43-yard touchdown strike to Marvin Jones that cut Minnesota's lead to 27-23 at the dawn of the fourth quarter. Ford Field went silent following the score as Stafford (20-of-35 passing for 250 yards and two scores) hobbled to the sideline after tripping backward and rolling his ankle over a Vikings defender. The tough-as-nails signal-caller returned to the field, but it was not to be, as Stafford -- clearly affected by the injury -- tossed a killer pick to Xavier Rhodes with three minutes left in the game. The Vikings, winners of seven straight, effectively drained the clock from there to seal the final score.

2. Minnesota fans are tired of hearing about the Eagles, Saints and Rams mentioned before the Vikings as a legitimate Super Bowl threat in the NFC. Their agitation is on point. Backed by a balanced roster with dominant players on both sides of the ball, surging signal-caller Case Keenum completed 14 of his first 18 throws en route to another clean day with 282 yards through the air, two scores and no turnovers. He cooled in the second half, but Keenum has never displayed better field vision, looking off reads and picking perfect moments to use his feet to move the chains. With coordinator Pat Shurmur dialing up another masterful game plan and Minnesota's line playing as well as any league-wide, Keenum's play has been elevated to new heights. Make no mistake, though, he's grown personally in the realm of quarterbacking artistry, showing appropriate aggressiveness downfield while protecting the ball. Whispers of a switch under center simply don't ring true after another sturdy performance.

3. The lack of a ground attack has killed the Lions all season. What else is new? They haven't had a back run for 100 yards in a game since Reggie Bush turned the trick on Turkey Day 2013. The result? Endless extra pressure on Stafford to save the day. Ameer Abdullah (6/14) and Theo Riddick (5/20) offer flashes of brilliance, but too much of that comes in the passing game. Imagine what a player like Le'Veon Bell -- nay, even a functioning chain-mover -- would do for play-action and the overall balance of this attack. Supported with just 40 yards on the ground from his backs, Stafford was forced into far too many obvious passing scenarios. It's unfair to say he doesn't have talent around him -- Marvin Jones (6/109/2) and Kenny Golladay (2/61) were sensational and Golden Tate is a massive asset -- but the lack of balance makes it tough for Detroit to command game flow.

4. It wasn't his wildest outing of the year, but Adam Thielen continued to do Adam Thielen things on Thursday with 89 yards off eights grabs. His pristine route-running gives the Vikings wideout a step on defenders before his impressive strength allows him to wrest the ball away from enemy hands at the point of contact. He's a chain-mover who can hurt you as a third-down possession guy or deep down the field. Matched with Stefon Diggs (5/66) and Kyle Rudolph (4/63/2), Thielen looms as an obvious All-Pro selection in the NFC.

5. Everson Griffen and his wife Tiffany welcomed a baby boy just hours before the game. The Vikings edge rusher celebrated with a second-quarter sack of Stafford before notching another in the second half, giving him 12 takedowns on the year. Griffen authored these heroics before even having the chance to name his newborn son.

6. For all of Minnesota's success, the glory doesn't extend to Kai Forbath, the team's embattled placekicker who missed a pair of field goals last week and saw an extra point blocked Thursday before the same happened on a 53-yard attempt before the half. The hold was bobbled on the missed field goal, but Forbath has been a concerning enigma of late.

7. Calling Keenum for taunting on a third-down sack that saw him casually flip the ball to the ground while sitting on the turf? That might have been the capper from a cast of zebras who also failed to see a comprehensive case of pass interference on Detroit just plays earlier.

8. The streaking Vikings now go on the road against the Falcons and Panthers over the next two weeks before facing the Bengals, Packers and Bears to close out the year. The Lions, meanwhile, don't see another team with a winning record all year, with dates against the Ravens, Bucs, Bears, Bengals and Packers in their suddenly shaky quest for a playoff spot.

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