NFL Game Preview & Point-Spread Prediction: Vikings vs Lions

The Minnesota Vikings will try to quickly rebound from Monday’s loss to the Seahawks when they come home in Week 14 for an NFC North rivalry game with the Detroit Lions. Kickoff is set for 1:00 EST on Sunday, December 8 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. Fans in local markets can watch the game on Fox.

Current betting odds have the Vikings favored by 13 points at home. There is also an over/under of 43 points. Click here to get a complete list of the Week 14 NFL betting odds.

Vikings vs Lions Vegas Betting Line & Game Preview

After Monday’s loss in Seattle, the Vikings find themselves a game behind the Packers in the NFC North standings. In fairness, Minnesota has won six of their last eight games and sits at 8-4 heading into the final quarter of the season. However, that record is only good enough to give them a one-game cushion for the last Wild Card spot in the NFC. The Vikings, of course, are still hoping to catch Green Bay and will get a chance to host the Packers in Week 16. But they also need to take care of business in their other games if they want to secure a playoff spot.

Meanwhile, Detroit’s season continues to go down the tubes. The Lions are now using third-string quarterback David Blough and are in the midst of a five-game losing streak after falling at home to the Bears on Thanksgiving. It’s worth noting that all five losses during that stretch have come by eight points or less. Alas, the Lions have just one win in their last nine games, which will likely have Matt Patricia on the hot seat late in the season. Patricia needs to find a way to win a couple of games late in the season if he wants to keep his job. Otherwise, the Lions could fall into the discussion for the worst team in the NFL this year alongside the Bengals, Giants, and Redskins.

On top of their recent struggles, the Lions have also lost to the Vikings the last four times these NFC North foes have played one another. That includes a 42-30 win for the Vikings in Detroit earlier this year. On the bright side, the Lions are 4-4 in their last eight trips to the Twin Cities, so they shouldn’t be intimated about going on the road for a rivalry game.

Free NFL Pick Against the Spread: Lions +13

I usually don’t like eating this many points in a rivalry game and I’m going to stick with that philosophy in this game. Minnesota is on a short week and is a little banged up right now. Plus, all but one of Detroit’s losses this season have come by single digits. The Lions aren’t good enough to win games, but they’re good enough to stay competitive, which is why I like Detroit to beat the spread in a losing effort this week.

On the injury front, the Vikings have some serious questions. It starts with Dalvin Cook, who is questionable after leaving Monday’s game with a chest injury. For what it’s worth, I like backup Alexander Mattison, who’s had a productive year as Minnesota’s backup. But Cook is one of the NFL’s elite running backs and it’s hard to envision Mattison being able to fill his shoes. Meanwhile, wide receiver Adam Thielen remains questionable and hasn’t played in over a month. The Vikings have survived without him, but if Cook and Thielen both sit this one out, Minnesota’s offense will be at a huge disadvantage.

On the other side of the ball, Blough showed a fair amount of promise on Thanksgiving against the Bears. He started the game with a touchdown pass and ended up with 280 yards passing against a solid Chicago defense. Keep in mind that the Lions have a good collection of skill players with Kenny Golladay and Marin Jones, among others. Bo Scarbrough has also given the running game a boost in recent weeks. Even though they’ve won just three games, the Lions are middle of the pack in points scored, so it’s tough for opponents to pull away from them.

It’s also worthwhile to question the play of the Minnesota defense in recent weeks. Even after forcing three turnovers, they gave up over 400 yards of offense against the Seahawks last week. The Vikings are giving up 27.5 points over their last four games and have held just one team under 20 points over their last seven games. Keep in mind that the Lions, albeit with Matthew Stafford at quarterback, put 30 points on the board against Minnesota earlier this year. In other words, the Vikings don’t necessarily have the kind of defense that makes covering 13 points easy.

Obviously, the Vikings are the better team and will probably win the game. But with the injury questions, the short week, and the Lions having 10 days since their last game to prepare, the Vikings have a lot working against them in this game. There’s enough reasonable doubt to make me think the Lions will beat the spread in another close loss.

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