Minnesota Vikings vs. Detroit Lions – NFL, Week 17, 2020

By Dean McHugh in NFL
| December 30, 2020 8:19 am PDT

Both of these two are eliminated from this years competition and have been for a few weeks now. The only thing left to play for is trying to avoid the wooden spoon in the NFC North Division. The Lions currently occupy that place, but they could leapfrog the Vikings if they can win convincingly here.

The Vikings are out of sorts, having only won two of their last three games, which includes losing the last three in a row.

The Lions are on an even worse run, having only won one of their last five and losing the last three in a row also.

The Vikings have dominated this fixture in recent years, winning the last six straight and four of the last five in Detroit.

Vikings vs. Lions Odds

Vikings (-6.5) -110
Lions (+6.5) -110
Vikings To Win -285
Lions To Win +225
Over 54.5 Points -110
Under 54.5 Points -110

The handicap is slightly bigger than I anticipated here, but given the Viking’s dominance over the Lions, I guess it’s easy to understand. What is evident is the bookmakers expect both teams to play open football resulting in lots of points!

Vikings Analysis

The Vikings are looking to halt their second three-game losing streak this season after losing their opening three games. On that occasion, they did so, beating the Texans away from home, will history repeat itself here against the Lions?

The Vikings have won as many games on the road as they have at home this year, but they have lost the last two in a row. However, their losses came against the Saints and the Buccaneers, so they can be forgiven. Prior to that, they did post back-to-back victories on the road for the first time this season against the Bears and, more impressively, the leading team in the NFC, the Green Bay Packers. Here are some highlights of that win over the Packers.

They have not done well against the spread recently, losing the last five in a row. However, they have been better on the road, winning four of the last six games. That record improves again looking at the head to head history against Detroit as they have won the last five in a row against the spread and five of the last six in Detroit.

As the bookmakers have already suggested, their games have been high scoring, and seven of the last ten have gone over the betting total. However, this reduces rapidly when you summarise their away games with only three of nine going over. Games between the two teams have been typically low scoring also with ten of the last 14 going under the betting total too.

For a team that makes so many yards, the Vikings will be disappointed that they don’t get more points on the board. They’re averaging an impressive 385 yards per game and just under 150 rushing yards, but yet they are only posting an average of 26 points per game, which is still good but could be better.

Running back Dalvin Cook has been a shining light for them this season, posting over 1500 rushing yards this year, the second-highest in the league. Although he didn’t quite gain as many yards as he would have hoped for last week against the Saints, he did continue his touchdown streak, stretching it to three matches in a row. However, some Viking’s fans have questioned his character in recent weeks.

Defensively they have had a nightmare this year, allowing 29 points against them per game, which is only better than four other teams in the league. One positive has been the number of interceptions Harrison Smith has to his name as he has amassed the fifth highest in the league this year.

Although much like his team, he hasn’t produced the goods in the last three games, which has been disappointing.

Lions Analysis

The Lions are on a very poor run, having only won one of their last six games and have lost three in a row for the first time this season. The way they practically gave up against the Bucs last week, especially in the first half, will be worrying to Detroit fans.

At home, they have the worst record in the NFC, only winning one of their seven games to date. They, like their current form, have lost their last three in a row at home.

Against the spread, Detroit has a miserable record, only winning eight of their last 25 games. Much like their season, things don’t improve looking at their home record as they have only won twice from their last seven against the spread also.

One thing they can’t be criticized for is entertainment, as six of their last nine games have gone over the betting total, and 11 of their last 14 in Detroit have gone the same way.

However, that is largely down to having the worst defense in the NFL this year, averaging 32 points against them per game. They are giving up an average of over 410 yards per game, which again is the worst in the league.

Looking at their offensive stats, things don’t really improve much as they’re only posting an average of 22 points per game, and their rushing yards gained is only better than one other team in the league.

They also have the third-lowest amount of interceptions made this season. They have made the fourth-lowest amount of tackles this year, which has lead to many journalists calling them pussy cats rather than Lions.

Vikings vs. Lions Betting Pick

Pick
  • Vikings To Win
    -285

Given both teams poor defenses, it would be easy to opt for over the betting total, but it looks quite high to me, considering the two teams have only scored over 54 points once from 14 games when playing against each other. I would have taken the Lions with the handicap, but the way they fell apart last week really makes me question whether they are looking towards next season already, so I will opt for the safe option and take the Vikings to win straight up.

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