After getting close to stealing a win against the Baltimore Ravens in Week Three, it was not hard to see the Detroit Lions notching win No. 1 against the Chicago Bears last week. Justin Fields looked terrible against the Cleveland Browns the week before, so maybe the Lions defense could keep him from getting on track—but it did not. Fields did not have a great game, but he did not have a bad one either.
However, the Lions found another way to lose; the defense gave up a season-high 188 yards on the ground. But next up is a Minnesota Vikings team that is only 1-3 and has not looked great on either side of the ball. If Dalvin Cook is limited again, maybe this is the week the Lions steal their first win of the season.
|Detroit Lions vs. Minnesota Vikings, Sunday, 10/10 @ 1:00 PM ET|
|Best Lions Odds||Best Vikings Odds|
|BetMGM||+9.0 (-110)||Spread||-8.5 (-115)||FanDuel|
|Caesars||Over 49.0 (-110)||Total||Under 49.5 (-110)||BetMGM|
It may seem hard to believe about a winless team, but the Detroit Lions are not as bad as their record would indicate. There is talent on the team, just not enough of it. The coaching is not bad either, but there is only so much you can do with a roster full of players that would be reserves at best on most teams. But the coaching staff is getting what they can out of the guys they have.
It does not help that what talent they have keeps getting injured. This week, the Lions added two more to the IR, center Frank Ragnow and linebacker Romeo Okwara.
The Lions are not bad on the offensive side of the ball (18th in total offense), but they are not that good either (20 (.3 points/game; 24th). The passing game averages a respectable 250.0 yards a game; good enough for 15th in the league. However, with a running game barely averaging 100 yards a game (101.8; 20th), there is no room for mistakes.
The offense is at its best when Jared Goff connects with his running backs and T.J. Hockenson early and often. With a little more help from the wide receivers, the Lions offense could become productive. But it will not matter much if the defense can’t keep teams out of the endzone. Teams are scoring on almost every other drive (47.6 percent; 30th) against the Lions defense.
Losing Okwara is not going to make things any easier for a defense that was already struggling.
Kirk Cousins is off to a solid start with completion percentages of 73.5, 68.8, and 79.0 in the first three games. Last week, he only completed 52.6 percent. But it did not help that the Browns knew they could focus on stopping the passing game with Dalvin Cook not being 100 percent; Cook has already missed one game and probably should not have played last week.
However, assuming Cook is good to go this week, the Vikings offense may look to feed Cook the ball against a poor Lions run defense.
As for the Vikings defense, it is hard to say how good the unit is this season. The Browns, Cardinals, and Seahawks have three of the better offenses in the NFL this season. While they lost two of those three games, they did limit Seattle to just 17 points and Cleveland to just 14.
Surprisingly, where they seem to be struggling the most is against the run (4.8 yards/attempt allowed). After going on a spending spree in the offseason to improve their run defense, the Vikings defense is performing about the same as last season (135.5 yards/game allowed this year; 134.4 allowed last year).
However, since the Lions struggle to run the ball, that may not be an issue for the Vikings this week.
Once again, it is hard to make a case for the Lions to win this game. Offensively, they are too dependent on the pass—and that is with a lack of talent at wide receiver. Jared Goff may see some success against a Vikings defense allowing over 250 yards a game. But can he see enough to make up for the success Kirk Cousins will have against the Lions defense?
The best bet here is to take the Vikings via the moneyline. It is just too hard to make a case for the Lions to win this game outright. However, if Kirk Cousins has a bad day, it is a little easier to see the Lions possibly cover the spread. But that is unlikely with how the Lions defense has played. Take the Vikings against the spread as well.
As for the total, neither offense is particularly strong, making it easier to see the under is the way to go. But this one could go either way.