Detroit Lions (4-4 SU, 4-4 ATS) vs. Minnesota Vikings (5-2 SU, 5-2 ATS)
Week 9 NFL
Date/Time: Sunday, November 6, 2016 at 1PM EST
Where: U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, Minnesota
By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com
Betting Odds: DET +6/MIN -6
Over/Under Total: 41
The Detroit Lions come to U.S. Bank Stadium to take on the Minnesota Vikings in week 9 NFC North action. Detroit saw a three-game win streak end on Sunday in a 20-13 road loss to Houston. A stagnant first half contributed to the defeat, but the Lions look to nose back above the .500 mark this week in what would be a huge divisional win. The Vikings lost their second in a row with a 20-10 loss to the Bears on Monday Night Football. They've been a bit flat after the bye week with two losses in a row. On one hand, if you said the Vikes would start 5-2 after losing Bridgewater and Peterson, they'd have taken that deal. But while their defense continues to play well, issues on offense now threaten to send their season a bit sideways.
Detroit is a pretty difficult team to figure out, dating back to last season. At 1-7 last year, they peeled off 6 wins in their last 8 games. Then this season, they opened strongly, before losing three straight. Then came a three-game win streak, followed by the flat performance at Houston. They can be fairly erratic, making them a hard team to get a read on. But they're also a team that can shine in spots like this.
The Lions were highly stagnant, especially early, against Houston in week 8. Until the fourth quarter, the Lions had managed just a field goal's worth of scoring. Granted, the Texans defense can be pretty tough, especially at home. But that's a common problem with Detroit, an offense that sometimes goes into long stretches of nothingness. We've seen a more mature Matthew Stafford, a quarterback who takes what he can get without a slew of mistakes. But the offense sometimes has issues.
The Detroit offense has potential through the air, but it sometimes doesn't really manifest, as it didn't on Sunday. But running the ball is a major challenge for this team. That lack of variety sometimes makes them one-dimensional. Theo Reddick can make some nice runs and is a definite weapon aerially. Marvin Jones has been big at times in his first year in Detroit. Eric Ebron shows signs of becoming a big-time ball-catching tight end. Golden Tate has made some big catches this season, but has had a quiet season by his standards and old hand Anquan Boldin has chipped in with four TD catches. Stafford has an impressive 16/4 touchdown-to-interception ratio. But it's a wildly inconsistent group. Even as they are facing a defense in Minneapolis that they might not match up well against on paper, you can't summarily rule this bunch out in a spot like this. You can't count on them, either.
Detroit's defense has been so-so. That's the best way to put it. There often isn't a ton of rhyme or reason to their performances. But against offenses that struggle on occasion, they can be effective. The Vikings don't have a ton of weaponry on offense. That's a spot where the Lions can maybe spring to life a little bit. They have a playmaking ability that sometimes surfaces and sometimes doesn't. Again, there's a reason the Lions are one of the toughest teams to figure out in a league that is erratic by nature.
The Vikings were flat on offense and fell victim to an almost-strangely effective home Bears team on MNF. To begin the season, we saw a great Vikings defense bolstering an efficient but highly-unspectacular offense. Sam Bradford has seen his performances dip in the past few weeks. The Vikings had 258 yards of total offense on Monday with a lot of that coming late in the game. They are really struggling lately on that side of the ball and it's no wonder. Without Peterson, the offense features a lot of role guys without a standout playmaker. They can barely run the ball and other than Stefon Diggs, the receiving crew is pretty humdrum.
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Even the Minnesota defense wasn't really at its best on Sunday. They gave up a huge performance to Chicago rookie back Jordan Howard, with returning Jay Cutler having a good showing in his first game back. They're still good, but when they were giving up an average of 12 points a game in the first 5 weeks, the shortcomings of the offense were harder to see. But in allowing a small increase of 20 and 21 points in their last two games, the ineptitude of the offense has shined through.
Still, the last two games for the Vikings were on the road and this one is at what looks like a tough place for opponents to play at U.S. Bank Stadium. So far this season, they've gotten 3 wins and 3 covers in as many games at home. I look for Detroit to have trouble getting into an offensive rhythm on Sunday against the Vikes' defense, which should be a tick or two better at home. We see the Vikings getting things back on the right track this week. But with that offense, taking big numbers just doesn't seem like the right move.
Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the Detroit Lions plus 6 points. Tired of your credit card not working for sportsbook deposit? End that problem today by signing up and betting the Detroit vs. Minnesota game at Bovada Sportsbook where your credit card WILL work and where you'll receive a generous 100% sign-up bonus!