The Minnesota Vikings (10-2) visit the Detroit Lions (5-7) on Sunday. The game kicks off at 1 pm ET. Below we continue our NFL odds series with a Vikings-Lions prediction and pick.
Minnesota comes into Sunday’s matchup after back-to-back wins over the Patriots and Jets. The Vikings are currently the second seed in the NFC and can clinch the NFC North with a win or tie on Sunday. Minnesota is 6-5-1 against the spread while 58% of their games have gone over.
Detroit, meanwhile, has won four of their last five games after last week’s beatdown over Jacksonville. The Lions are ninth in the NFC and would likely need to win out to make the playoffs. Detroit is 8-4 against the spread while 67% of their games have gone over. The teams most recently met in week three when Minnesota came away with a 28-24 victory.
Here are the Vikings-Lions NFL odds, courtesy of FanDuel.
NFL Odds: Vikings-Lions Odds
Minnesota Vikings: +1.5 (-106)
Detroit Lions: -1.5 (-114)
Over: 51.5 (-112)
Under: 51.5 (-108)
Why The Vikings Could Cover The Spread
Minnesota was a trendy sleeper pick to come out of the NFC North this season but even the most optimistic supporter couldn’t have predicted their blazing start to the season. The Vikings are one of two teams with 10 wins this season and are all but assured a playoff spot. With a win or tie in this matchup, they can clinch the NFC North.
The fact that Minnesota enters Sunday’s game as underdogs speak to how unfavorable the underlying metrics are towards them. The Vikings have amassed their shiny 10-2 record despite a point differential of just +10. They are 9-0 in one-score games — an NFL record to begin a season. They feature a solid offense and middling defense and therefore are very susceptible to high-scoring affairs.
Minnesota’s offense scores the 11th-most points per game despite ranking just 18th in Football Outsiders’ DVOA. They are a pass-heavy team who throws the ball at the third-highest rate in the league. The Vikings have a number of capable offensive weapons including receiver Justin Jefferson and tight end TJ Hockenson. Jefferson has cemented himself as one of the best wide receivers in the NFL. He ranks third in receptions (88) and second in receiving yards (1,277). Hockenson, too, is a premier player at his position as he ranks third among tight ends in receptions (56) and yards (620). The Lions allowed the third-most yards per attempt in the league – setting both receivers up for big games.
Why The Lions Could Cover The Spread
Detroit enters Sunday’s game as one of the hottest teams in the league. Despite having half as many wins as the Vikings, the Lions find themselves favorites in the betting market.
The best case for a Lions’ cover revolves around their potent offense. Detroit started the season on fire but saw their offense sputter once receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown got hurt. He returned in week eight and has led his team to a 4-2 record since. Over the last six weeks, St. Brown leads the league in receptions and ranks fourth in yards. He is Detroit’s go-to guy on third down and should be the beneficiary of a big week from quarterback Jared Goff. Goff is a home-field darling and has an excellent matchup against Minnesota’s putrid pass defense. He excels against zone coverage, something the Vikings play almost exclusively. Goff should be well-protected behind an offensive line that ranks second in adjusted sack rate. Additionally, Detroit excels in the red zone behind running back Jamaal Williams’ league-leading 14 rushing touchdowns.
The biggest variable in a potential Lions cover is their defense. On paper, this is a great matchup for opposing quarterback Kirk Cousins. The Lions allow the sixth-most passing yards per game and are league-average in takeaways. That being said, the Lions’ defensive philosophy matches up very well with Cousins. Detroit uses man coverages at one of the highest rates in the NFL and blitz at an above-average rate. Cousins has played well this season but is one of the worst passers in the league against man and against the blitz. The Vikings scored 20 points in the first half last week but just seven the rest of the game. That’s because the Jets upped their man coverage rate dramatically in the second half. The Lions won’t completely shut down Minnesota’s high-powered passing attack but are well-positioned to keep them in check.
Final Vikings-Lions Prediction & Pick
The sharp money is on Detroit and I’m right there with them. Detroit has a great chance to cover but if you’re weary about backing a five-win team, the over is also a solid play.
Final Vikings-Lions Prediction & Pick: Detroit Lions -1.5 (-114)