Lions vs. Vikings Odds & Picks: When To Bet Minnesota On Sunday
Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images. Pictured: Dalvin Cook.
Lions vs. Vikings Odds
The Lions head to the Gopher State for a divisional matchup against the Vikings.
Detroit appeared to be on the right track after a two-game winning streak following its Week 5 bye. However, a 20-point loss to the Colts last week may have dampened the mood in the Lions locker room. Like Detroit, Minnesota also followed its bye week with a win, but it was the quality of the opponent they defeated that was surprising.
The Vikings braved 25 mph winds to hand the division-leading Packers their second loss of the season and first at home. Minnesota was buoyed by the return of Pro Bowl running back Dalvin Cook and just might have found the right elixir to salvage what is left of their season. Cook carried the ball 30 times for 163 rushing yards and finished with four touchdowns — three rushing and one receiving.
A closer look at Minnesota’s rushing attack against the Lions could provide the key to betting this game successfully.
Just when you think the Lions are turning the corner, you’re reminded yet again of the ineptitude of their organization. Last week Detroit trailed Indianapolis by six points in the third quarter before quarterback Matthew Stafford fumbled inside Indianapolis territory, which resulted in another empty possession for the Lions.
Indianapolis converted that turnover into a touchdown, and then on Detroit’s very next possession, Stafford threw a pick-six that gave the Colts a 35-14 lead in the fourth quarter, pretty much ending any hopes of a comeback.
I often like to compare where teams are ranked with respect to Football Outsiders’ DVOA along with how they’ve performed relative to the betting market: The Lions are ranked 17th in total DVOA and the fact that they’re 3-4 against the spread (ATS) is a bit skewed. Keep in mind that they needed an epic Atlanta fourth-quarter collapse to secure their third win of the season. Nonetheless, the Lions are -14 in ATS margin and they’ve already lost by at least 20 points twice this season.
Whether you use their win-loss record, ATS record, or DVOA numbers, the fact is that Detroit is a below-average team. Sure, the Lions can rack up yardage up and down the field, but they’re converting only 62% of their red-zone opportunities into touchdowns.
It’s difficult to highlight a specific area in which the Lions are performing exceptionally well — they’re good enough to win the occasional game, but it’s the inconsistency that makes it tough to get behind them, particularly at the betting window.
Things could be tougher against the Vikings.
Stafford has been away from the team due to COVID-19 precautions, but would still be in line to start if he continues to test negative prior to the game.
The Lions will be without starting wide receiver Kenny Golladay due to a hip injury — he’s the second-most targeted wide receiver in this offense, so his absence will certainly be felt on Sunday. They’ll also be without starting defensive back Tracy Walker due to a foot injury while starting tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai (foot) and backup guard Joe Dahl (back) are listed as questionable. Starting linebacker Christian Jones (knee) and backup cornerback Darryl Roberts (groin) are also questionable.
The fact that the Vikings came out of their bye week to defeat a quality Green Bay team shows that they still have something left in the tank. It wasn’t just that the Vikings won, but more impressively, how they did it. The Vikings deployed a heavy run-oriented game plan, which helped them wear out the Packers.
If you go back and look at Minnesota’s quality of opponents, you’ll find that they’ve played the third-toughest strength of schedule thus far this season. There’s no doubt the Vikings have underperformed, but they’ve also been ravaged by cluster injuries in their secondary and have struggled to replace Stefon Diggs at wide receiver.
With those shortcomings in mind, it made sense for the Vikings to use their bye week as an opportunity to simplify things.
I’m not sure there’s a more repeatable formula in the NFL than a run-first offense. Per TeamRankings, the Vikings are ranked sixth in the league with 144 yards per game. They’ll be facing a Lions defense ranked 23rd, allowing 130 yards per game. You can really see the value of the Vikings’ run game in their red zone numbers: Despite their 2-5 win-loss record, they’re actually ranked fourth in the league with a 77% red-zone touchdown conversion.
If you’re a Vikings fan, you can only hope they follow up their win in Green Bay with another run-dominant game plan against the Lions. It might just be exactly what Kirk Cousins needs to hold on to the starting quarterback position in Minnesota.
As far as injuries are concerned, starting cornerbacks Holton Hill (foot) and Cameron Dantzler (concussion) have both been ruled out. Backup cornerback Mark Fields II (chest) has also been ruled out while their third-team cornerback Harrison Hand (hamstring) was a limited participant in practice and is listed as questionable.
The Lions continue to show that they cannot be trusted at the betting window.
Frankly, it was the way they lost last week that was so disappointing. They seem to constantly find new ways to beat themselves and this game is a coaching mismatch with Matt Patricia going up against Mike Zimmer — Zimmer found a way to keep his team motivated enough to win a road game off a bye despite having only one win on the season.
The Vikings have been the favorites in their last five meetings with Detroit and they’ve won and covered all five of those games. They’ve also rushed for at least 100 yards in each of those games. Last week’s 173 rushing yards could set the groundwork for another Vikings win.
Right now, I’d lean toward the Vikings in this matchup at the current price. The only thing keeping me from firing right now is their patchwork secondary, which likely caught a break last week due to the windy conditions that would have affected any quarterback.
The spread has dropped down to 3.5, so it’s not impossible that we see a 3 before kickoff. At that price, I would certainly be more inclined to play the Vikings. It’s either Minnesota or pass for this bettor.
LEAN: Vikings if spread reaches -3 [Shop real-time lines now]