Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions
Ford Field – Detroit, Michigan
Sunday, December 14, 2014, 4:25 pm Eastern, TV: Fox, NFL Sunday Ticket
Opening Line: Detroit -7 1/2
Current Line: Detroit -7 1/2 (-115)
Opening Total: 44
Current Total: 41 1/2
Opening Money Line: Lions -320 / Vikings +265
Current Money Line: Lions -350 / Vikings +290
The 9-4 Detroit Lions are a game behind the 10-3 Green Bay Packers in the NFC North. The Lions are also tied with the Seattle Seahawks and Dallas Cowboys for the two wild card spots in the NFC playoffs. While Detroit faces an inferior foe at home Sunday in the 6-7 Minnesota Vikings, the Lions can’t afford to take the game for granted. The Lions are 7.5 point favorites on the NFL betting lines.
Since 2001, Minnesota leads the series 20-7 against Detroit. The Lions won earlier this season in Minneapolis 17-3.
Minnesota is coached by Mike Zimmer. The Vikings have home wins over the Atlanta Falcons 41-28, Washington Redskins 29-26, Carolina Panthers 31-13 and last week against the New York Jets 30-24 in overtime, along with road wins at the St. Louis Rams 34-6 and Tampa Bay Buccaneers 19-13 in overtime. Minnesota has home losses to the Patriots 30-7, Lions 17-3 and Packers 24-21 , plus road losses to the New Orleans Saints 20-9, Packers 42-10, Buffalo Bills 17-16 and at the Chicago Bears 21-13. The Vikings have won 2 straight games. Minnesota is 8-5 ATS and the total is 5-8 this season. The Vikings were 4 point favorites against the Jets and the total was 40.5.
Detroit is coached by Jim Caldwell. Detroit has losses at the Carolina Panthers 24-7, Arizona Cardinals 14-6 and New England Patriots 34-9, and at home to the Buffalo Bills 17-14. The Lions have home wins over the New York Giants 35-14, Packers 19-7, New Orleans Saints 24-23, Miami Dolphins 20-16 Bears 34-17 and last week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 34-17. Detroit also has road wins at the New York Jets 24-17, Minnesota Vikings 17-3 and against the Atlanta Falcons 22-21 in London. Detroit has won 2 straight games. The Lions are 7-6 ATS and the total is 4-9 this season. Detroit was a 10.5 point favorite against Tampa Bay and the total was 42.
Minnesota is being outscored 22-20 this season. The Vikings are #25 in scoring. They are averaging 309 yards per game on offense including 195 passing and 115 rushing yards. Minnesota is #28 in total offense and #30 in passing. On defense, the Vikings are allowing 348 yards per game including 221 passing and 127 rushing yards. The Vikes are #6 in pass defense and #12 in total defense. Minnesota is 68/182 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 82/189. The Vikings have forced 38 sacks and allowed 40 sacks this season. Minnesota has six defensive touchdowns and have allowed two as well. The Vikings are +1 in turnovers.
Minnesota has used 3 quarterbacks this season. Rookie Teddy Bridgewater took over for Matt Cassel who is out for the season with a broken foot. Bridgewater missed the first game against the Packers with an ankle injury and was replaced by Christian Ponder. Bridgewater has completed 61.9% of his passes for 2,136 yards with 10 touchdowns and 8 interceptions, and also has 33 carries for148 yards and a rushing touchdown. Ponder has thrown for 222 yards with 2 interceptions, but he does have a rushing touchdown. Cassel threw for 425 yards with 3 touchdowns and 4 interceptions.
Running back Adrian Peterson is suspended indefinitely after accepting a plea bargain for child abuse charges. Jerick McKinnon has 113 carries for 538 yards, plus 27 catches for 135 yards. He is out for the season with a back injury. Matt Asiata has 118 carries for 385 yards and 6 touchdowns, plus 32 catches for 226 yards and a touchdown.
Receiver Greg Jennings has 50 catches for 598 yards and 4 touchdowns. Cordarrelle Patterson has 30 catches for 350 yards and a touchdown, plus 9 carries for 119 yards and a touchdown. Patterson is also one of the best kick and punt return men in the league. He is questionable with a hamstring injury. Jarius Wright has 32 catches for 478 yards and a touchdown. Charles Johnson has 21 catches for 343 yards and 2 touchdowns. He is out with an ankle injury. Eight defensive players are questionable or out.
For years, the Detroit Lions were known for having an explosive offense and a so-so defense at best. This year the script has been flipped as the Lions are struggling to move the ball and have a dominant defense. Detroit is outscoring teams 20-17 this season. The Lions are #24 in scoring and #1 in points allowed. Detroit is averaging 349 yards per game including 265 passing and 84 rushing yards per game. The Lions are #16 in total offense, #9 in passing and #30 in rushing. On defense, Detroit is #2 in total defense allowing 296 yards per game including 233 passing and 63 rushing yards. The Lions are #11 in pass defense and #1 in rush defense. Detroit is 82/203 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 64/177. Detroit has allowed 35 sacks and forced 39 this season. The Lions are +6 in turnovers. Detroit has 2 defensive touchdowns this season.
Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford has completed 61.5% of his passes for 3,644 yards with 18 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, along with 2 rushing touchdowns. Running back Joique Bell has 182 carries for 664 yards and 6 touchdowns, plus 28 catches for 268 yards and a touchdown. Reggie Bush has 61 carries for 217 yards and a touchdown, plus 30 catches for 177 yards. Bush is questionable with a nagging ankle injury that has cost him several games this season.
Receiver Golden Tate has 84 catches for 1,186 yards and 3 touchdowns. Calvin Johnson has 57 catches for 882 yards and 6 touchdowns, despite missing three games with an ankle injury. Theo Riddick has 27 catches for 272 yards and 3 touchdowns. Tight end Joseph Fauria is out for the season with an ankle injury. Ten defensive players are listed as questionable or out.
Football betting experts know Minnesota is 4-0 ATS on fieldturf, 9-1 in December, 6-1 overall, 4-1 after a cover, and against NFC teams, 6-2 after allowing 150 rushing yards or more, 20-8 after gaining 350 total yards or more, 4-12-1 in week 15, and 1-5-1 after passing for 250 yards or more. The underdog is 5-1-1 ATS in this series recently. The Vikings are 11-5-3 ATS against the Lions recently.
Detroit is 5-1 ATS against NFC North teams, 5-2 at home, 7-3 on fieldturf, 5-11-2 in week 15, 3-7 against teams with losing road records, 3-8 after a cover, 6-17-3 after scoring 30 points or more, 2-8 in December, 1-4 after allowing less than 250 total yards, and 1-5-1 after a straight up win of 14 points or more. The under is 9-4 in this series recently, including 5-2 in Detroit.
Minnesota has very little at stake but can still play spoiler against a division rival. The rookie Bridgewater has improved throughout the season and is still learning the NFL game. This should be a low scoring game between two offenses that struggle at times. I think Detroit wins but Minnesota keeps it closer than the Vegas oddsmakers think.