Lions vs. Vikings Picks, Predictions & Betting Odds: Minnesota’s Biggest Edge
USA Today Sports. Pictured: Kirk Cousins
- Should you lay the points with the Minnesota Vikings or take them with the Detroit Lions?
- Our experts preview the Week 14 NFL matchup between these NFC North rivals.
- Find betting odds, their analysis of the double-digit spread and a pick below.
Editor’s note: Dalvin Cook is no longer listed on the Vikings’ injury report.
Lions at Vikings Picks, Predictions & Betting Odds
- Odds: Vikings -13
- Over/Under: 43
- Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET
- TV Channel: FOX
Odds as of Thursday evening and via DraftKings, where Action Network users get a risk-free bet up to $500.
David Blough was effective in his first career start, but his second comes on the road against one of the NFC’s best defenses.
The Vikings are double-digit favorites against the struggling Lions, and our experts think that an inconsistent Detroit defense may struggle with Minnesota’s diverse offensive attack. Let’s dig into their full preview (complete with a staff pick) below.
Lions-Vikings Injury Report
Which team is healthier? Lions
Matthew Stafford (back) still isn’t practicing and Jeff Driskel was placed on injured reserve with a hamstring injury. That means Blough will start the second game of his NFL career.
Adam Thielen (hamstring) hasn’t practiced Wednesday or Thursday, meaning he may be out again. He’s the type of player that can play without practicing. As 13-point home favorites, however, the Vikings may not risk it.
Dalvin Cook has been getting in limited practice sessions after he injured his shoulder last week. He said he sat out the remainder of last week’s game due to precautionary reasons, and Cook didn’t waste any time telling people that he’ll be playing in Week 14. The fact he’s at least getting in limited practices is an encouraging sign. — Justin Bailey
Note: Info as of Thursday. See our Injury Report for daily practice participation and game statuses up until kickoff.
Vikings Running Backs vs. Lions Linebackers
Cook exited Week 13 early with an aggravated injury, but he’s tentatively expected to play this week. Even if Cook is limited, the Vikings should still be able to move the ball with third-round rookie backup Alexander Mattison, who is a bully of a player. For the season, Mattison has averaged 4.8 yards per carry and an 80% catch rate, and as Cook’s in-game replacement last week, he put up 73 yards on nine opportunities.
If Cook is healthy and active, that’s great. Against the Lions in Week 7, he compiled 149 yards and two touchdowns. Cook has a touchdown in 10 of 12 games. In his two scoreless starts, he has 167 scrimmage yards per game. He’s a straight baller.
But even without him, the Vikings should still be able to produce against the Lions thanks to Mattison.
And the Lions are just monumentally bad at defending opposing running backs. They rank No. 29 in run defense (per Pro Football Focus) and No. 30 in pass defense against backs (per Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric).
With 154.4 yards and 1.5 touchdowns allowed to opposing backfields, the Lions have been the league’s third-most exploitable team for the position this year.
Much of the blame belongs to linebackers Christian Jones and Jarrad Davis, who are remarkably substandard at almost everything they do (based on their PFF grades).
- Jarrad Davis: 42.5 overall, 58.5 run defense, 32.4 coverage
- Christian Jones: 43.2 overall, 45.2 run defense, 38.2 coverage
There are some remarkably poor linebacking duos currently in the league, but the Davis and Jones tag team might be the worst one.
On the ground and through the air, Davis and Jones match up extremely poorly with Cook and Mattison. Either one should be able to turn dust these linebackers.
The Vikings are No. 3 in the league with a 48.5 rush rate, so they tend to rely on the running game anyway, and as big home favorite, the Vikings could lean on their backs heavily throughout the contest.
Given their talent, matchup and likely game script, Cook and Mattison could combine for 200 yards and two touchdowns. — Matthew Freedman
Sean Koerner’s Projected Odds
- Projected Spread: Vikings -12.5
- Projected Total: 44
This total opened at 44 and has already been bet down to 43 with 60% of the tickets coming in on the under (see live public betting data here). But I think there’s sneaky value on this being a matchup that favors the over.
Blough is likely to draw the start again after proving he can at least get the ball to Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones. Xavier Rhodes, meanwhile, once again demonstrated that he’s prone to get burned a few times a game, so this isn’t too imposing of a matchup for the Lions, who will likely be in a pass-heavy trailing game script.
On the other side of the ball, the Vikings will be able to drop points on a Lions defense that ranks 27th in explosive pass plays allowed. Cook seems likely to play, but even if he’s ruled out, Mattison is more than capable of filling in and maintaining the Vikings strong ground game. — Sean Koerner
Mike Randle: Vikings -13
The Vikings return home to host a Lions team that they trounced 42-30 in Week 7. In that game, Stafford threw for 364 yards and four touchdowns. Needless to say, expectations are greatly reduced for the undrafted rookie free-agent Blough.
Blough played well in his first career start on Thanksgiving, throwing for 280 yards and two touchdowns with one interception. However, this game is on the road against a division rival with a strong defense. Minnesota ranks 11th best overall in defensive efficiency and top-10 against the run.
With Detroit ranking fifth-worst in run offense DVOA, this game sets up to put a ton of pressure on Blough, which certainly is concerning against a Vikings team that is undefeated (5-0) at home this season.
Since 2014, the Vikings have been particularly dominant at home with a 34-18-1 record against the spread as a favorite and a 30-14-1 record ATS at home.
I like the Vikings in a bounceback spot after a tough loss at Seattle against an inferior Lions team. Even if Cook is out, backup Mattison should be able to gash a poor Detroit run defense.
I would bet this line up to -13.5.
Mike Randle is 212-205-5 (50.8%) overall betting on the NFL. You can follow him in our free app.