Minnesota Vikings (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) vs. Detroit Lions (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS)
NFL Week 1
Date and Time: Sunday, September 8th, 2013, 1:00 pm EST
Where: Ford Field, Detroit, Mich.
TV: FOX/DirecTV 710
by Badger, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Min. +4.5/Det. -4.5
Over/Under Total: 46.5
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Anyone who follows the teams in the NFC North Division should take note of the scheduling quirk by the NFL, when the Minnesota Vikings face a key early divisional road game right away in their regular season opener going on the road to Ford Field to face the Detroit Lions Sunday on Fox.
The Vikings rode the surgically repaired legs of MVP Adrian Peterson all the way to NFC playoffs last season, but if Minnesota wants to take the next step theyll need to find balance and more playmaking out of quarterback Christian Ponder. Starting the season on the road probably isnt the way Ponder would like to start 2013, but it will give us all a glimpse into the maturity level of the third-year signal caller.
The Lions are anxious to start the new season, but when youre coming off an 4-12 campaign who isnt? Unlike last year when some media outlets were picking the Lions as a sleeper team, Detroit has fallen completely off the map in hype and talk this preseason. Theres no better way to make a comeback statement than with a big divisional win at home in the opener.
What originally opened as your standard home team Detroit favored by 3-points back in the summer has slowly climbed up to Lions minus -4 or plus the hook at -4.5 at some offshore sportsbooks. A few books have even flirted with Detroit as high as 5-point favorites, but that seems to be the tipping point as the -5s that were on the board were pretty short lived.
The over/under total opened at 47 and has only seen a modest drop to 46.5 at most sportsbooks.
Minnesota hasnt shown much of anything on offense this preseason, but its clear to see that A.P. wore down at the end last year chasing the yardage record. The Vikings need Ponder to develop a connection with new wideouts Greg Jennings and Cordarrelle Patterson, something that hasnt taking place yet this August. Detroit will have a slightly different look on defense this season (additions of Jason Jones and Israel Idonije), but their concerns in the secondary are still real and have yet to be addressed.
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Folks in Detroit and around the country are expecting a breakout year from Lions QB Matthew Stafford, especially with the addition of pass-catching running back Reggie Bush to the team. But the Lions problem hasnt really been on offense, just not scoring enough to make up for a lack of a defense. If the Lions and Stafford get a little too pass-heavy though, the Vikings d-line with Jared Allen, Kevin Williams and Brian Robison are dangerous enough to take advantage of that lopsided play calling.
If youre a betting trend player, youll note that the Lions have been pretty lousy in domes (6-13 ATS in L19 in domes) and against the NFC North in general (3-8 ATS in L11 overall). Minnesota has played pretty even (6-6 ATS) in the division of late, and theyre solid indoors (11-7 ATS in L18 in domes) which is what youd expect from a dome team.
Badger’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I’m betting the Lions to win convincingly.