Minnesota Vikings (8-2 SU, 7-3 ATS) vs. Detroit Lions (6-4 SU, 5-4-1 ATS)
NFL Week 12
Date/Time: Thursday, November 23, 2017 at 12:30PM EST
Where: Ford Field, Detroit, Michigan
by Scott, Expert Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: MIN -2.5/DET +2.5
Over/Under Total: 44.5
On Thanksgiving, the Minnesota Vikings come out to Ford Field for an NFC North division showdown with the Detroit Lions. We see a pair of teams here that are in good form entering this spot. Detroit won its third straight on Sunday with a 27-24 win over the Chicago Bears, overcoming an early deficit to get the win. They are now 6-4 and look to add another win in a familiar Thanksgiving spot for them. But the Vikings are now on a 6-game winning streak, following a high-quality 24-7 home win over the Rams on Sunday. They are beginning to stand out as a top contender in the NFC. They will, however, be looking to avoid the season-sweep against the Lions, who beat them at home in week 4 by a 14-7 score. They havent lost since and look to even the score on Thursday.
Over the past several seasons, the Lions have been a streaky team, with wins and losses coming in bunches. This season, they have followed suit. After a 3-1 start, they lost three in a row, but three straight wins have them looking good on both sides of the ball. They are getting a boost from the play of QB Matthew Stafford, who has really started to dial it in. And they have shown some mettle with two of those last three wins coming on the road. With wins over some dicey opposition, this week should tell a better story as to whether the Lions are going to be a team that people really need to worry about moving forward.
The Detroit offense has been a big part of the recent upswing, as they have put up a combined 95 points in their last three games. Stafford was near 300 yards on Sunday with two TD throws. Between Golden Tate, Marvin Jones, Eric Ebron, TJ Jones, Kenny Golladay, and others, they lack star-power perhaps, but have a pretty thorough aerial attack. Some semblance of a run-game has also helped, with Ameer Abdullah a useful part of this offense, as he caught a TD pass on Sunday. Theyre looking pretty good, but against a Minnesota D that has already shown they can keep the Detroit offense subdued, their work is cut out in this spot.
The Lions defense looms as the main potential obstacle to widespread success. They sure do get after it, showing a full effort along with an ability to generate positive developments. Their secondary, for example, might not always be super-stout, but with Tavon Wilson, Glover Quin, and Darius Slay making a lot of plays, it takes a sad song and makes it better. Jarrad Davis and Tahir Whitehead are very active at the linebacker position. But alas, they have been leaky on occasion. Their best performance may have come in week four, when they held the Vikings to just 7 points. They would like to see something similar unfold at home this week.
At 8-2, Minnesotas success is certainly hard to call fluky or accidental. Wins like what they had on Sunday show they are for real, as they dominated a 7-2 Rams team that had been in high-flying form. Entering the game as the leagues highest-scoring offense, the Rams managed a first quarter TD and that was it against Minnesota on Sunday. And getting to 8-2 hasnt been a breeze, with losses to their starting quarterback and a promising young rookie back who was looking as though he would shine. Their depth has come in handy and they are now really rolling.
Even after losing Sam Bradford and Dalvin Cook, the Minnesota offense has found a way to make it work. Against the team that let him go, Case Keenum was good on Sunday on 27/38 passing with 280 yards against the Rams. WR Adam Thielen has really stepped up this season and had another big showing with 123 yards and a touchdown grab. Stefon Diggs is going to produce. On the ground, Latavius Murray has started to really pay off in the ground game with Jerick McKinnon adding nice production. With a defense like what the Vikings have, it would be great if the offense continues to improve and were seeing signs of it.
The best part of the Vikings is on the other side of the ball with a stout and playmaking defense that can really take over games. They are good across all areas. The front-seven, in particular can be a real handful with difference-makers like Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter at the ends, along with Linval Joseph inside. The UCLA combo of Eric Kendricks and Anthony Barr make up a hard-hitting second level. The secondary has also tightened up and started playing better, bolstered by all the menace being applied up-front and in the middle.
In Detroits favor is their annual experience in these Thanksgiving games, along with how the first game between these division rivals unfolded. They are also on the good side of one of their typical streaks. They could easily pull off the season-sweep in this spot. I just see a game that goes a little differently than their first game, with more offense this time around. The way the Vikings are playing, namely with their 6-game win streak, makes it not so easy to go against them, even as road-favorites. I see this as a toss-up, which makes me inclined to take the home-dog. Im going with Detroit.
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