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Minnesota Vikings vs. Detroit Lions Point Spread - Pick

Minnesota Vikings (8-2 SU, 7-3 ATS) vs. Detroit Lions (6-4 SU, 5-4-1 ATS)
Week 12 NFL
Date/Time: Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, November 23, 2017 at 12:30PM EST
Where: Ford Field, Detroit, Michigan
TV: Fox

By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

Point Spread: MIN -2/DET +2
Over/Under Total: 44.5

The Minnesota Vikings come to Ford Field on Thanksgiving Day to take on the Detroit Lions in a Thursday NFC North battle. Both teams are on a roll and coming off wins last week. The Vikings scored a nice win, beating a 7-2 Rams team, 24-7. It was their 6th straight win and they are quickly becoming a top contender in the NFC. To make it 7 in a row, they will need to beat a Detroit team that appears to be on the good side of one their streaks, having won three games in a row, including a come-from-behind 27-24 win over the Chicago Bears on Sunday. In week four, Minnesota suffered one of its two losses of the season in a 14-7 loss to the Lions at home. Their offense really languished against Detroit and they look for better this time around. Who can come out ahead on Thanksgiving in this battle of NFC North contenders?

Minnesota looks to be the real deal. It's not just because they have a defense that brings it every week or an improving offense that has seen QB Case Keenum rise to the role of a quality NFL starter. With different issues deflating other NFL teams, The Vikes have actually managed to thrive in the face of adversity, overcoming different injuries and personnel issues to forge an 8-2 record through ten games. Since losing to Detroit in week 4, they haven't tasted defeat. And a win over a quality Rams team in such dominant fashion really boosts their stock heading into the last six games of the season.

The Minnesota offense has had a lot of issues and when you lose your starting quarterback and a good rookie running back, it usually leads to a depleted offense, but that hasn't been the case for the Vikes. Case Keenum is really on a nice roll and was 27-for-38 on Sunday with 280 yards and a TD. He has been developing a nice rapport with WR Adam Thielen, who had another big game on Sunday with 123 yards and a touchdown. With Dalvin Cook out for the season, they have seen their depth rise to the top with Jerick McKinnon and Latavius Murray really producing a nice one-two punch out of the Minnesota backfield. This offense doesn't need to be great with the defense the Vikes bring to the table, but they are a top-ten offense this season and a big part of the nice 8-2 start.

The Vikings' defense is one of the better ones in the conference. The secondary has gotten better over the course of the season and their run-stop continues to make a big difference. Against the Rams, Todd Gurley was kept in check with 37 yards on 15 carries, with a first-quarter touchdown all the scoring the Rams were able to manufacture on the day. Only twice this season has a team scored 20 or more points on the Vikes. They are good up-front, with Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter bringing the pass-rush from the edges, while Linval Joseph and fill-in Tom Johnson have been good inside. Eric Kendricks and Anthony Barr are good in the second level, with improving secondary play from guys like Xavier Rhodes, Harrison Smith, Trae Waynes, and erstwhile Terrence Newman. They allow an average of just 17 points a game.

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Detroit has again been a streaky team this season, but now a winning streak; they stand out as a dangerous opponent. They started the season 3-1, before a three-game slide threatened to derail their season. Three straight wins have righted the ship and now at 6-4, they look for more against a divisional team they have already beaten. Their last three weeks of play have been characterized by an upgrade in offensive play, with QB Matthew Stafford looking as strong as he has all season. Two of those three wins occurred on the road. While they have beaten the Vikings before, their last three wins came against the Packers, Browns, and Bears. This game will offer a clearer glimpse as to where the Lions really stand at this juncture.

The Lions offense has kicked it into a higher gear in the last three weeks with a combined 95 points in that time span. Stafford threw for 299 yards and a pair of touchdowns on Sunday. Golden Tate was quiet on the day receiving, with Marvin Jones, TJ Jones, Kenny Golladay, and Eric Ebron making up the bulk of the Lions' aerial production on Sunday. Ameer Abdullah was effective with some useful runs and a TD reception. We are starting to see an offense that might not have a lot of stars on it, but a lot of useful role players who combine to make for a pretty reliable formula on offense, as we've seen over the last several weeks.

There is less overall promise on the other side of the ball for the Lions, with a defense that is sometimes short on overall stoutness, but long on playmaking ability. With S Tavon Wilson, S Glover Quin, and CB Darius Slay, they can make a lot of things happen in the secondary, though as far as coverage, they're average. Linebackers Tahir Whitehead and Jarrad Davis are starting to form a nice combo in the middle. Young defensive tackle A'Shawn Robinson is starting to grow into the position. They could get better, though they have been exploitable in spots. A lot has changed since the Lions beat the Vikings, 14-7, in week four, but they sure did seem to match up well with Minnesota on this side of the ball.

It's not easy to go against the Vikings right now with the roll they're on. Against a red-hot Rams team, they were fairly dominant. The Lions, however, are looking as good as they have all season and at home on a strange day to play in which they are accustomed, they could have the wherewithal to pull off the season-sweep on the Vikings. I like their chances this week. I'm taking Detroit.

Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the Detroit Lions plus 2 points. Tired of your credit card not working for sportsbook deposit? End that problem today and bet the Lions vs. Vikes game from home by signing up at Bovada Sportsbook where your credit card WILL work and where you'll receive a generous 50% sign-up bonus!

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