NFL Football Picks: Lions vs. Vikings 12/8/19

by | Dec 4, 2019 | nfl

Detroit Lions (3-8-1 SU, 5-7-1 ATS) vs. Minnesota Vikings (8-4 SU, 6-6 ATS)
NFL Week 14
Date/Time: Sunday, December 8, 2019 at 1PM EST
Where: U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, Minnesota
TV: Fox

Point Spread: DET +13/MIN -13 (Bookmaker)
Over/Under Total: 43.5

The Detroit Lions take on the Minnesota Vikings in NFC North action from Minneapolis on Sunday. With five straight losses and 8 in their last 9, Detroit is coming off the long week, following a Thanksgiving loss to the Bears, 24-20. They now come into US Bank Stadium to take on the Vikings, who fell to the Seahawks on MNF, 37-30, in a tough road spot. Now they come off the short week looking to get back on the winning track in a top-heavy NFC where more setbacks would put a major crimp into their playoff status.

Revealing Tidbits from Game One

It’s a bit of a dilemma on how seriously we should take their first game into account. A week seven showdown in Detroit went to Minnesota, 42-30, but how much does that matter now? It was in week 7, which is relatively recent. At 2-3-1, Detroit was in a lot better shape back then, while the Vikings were just starting to get rolling after a tepid 2-2 start where not a lot was going right. After all, Matthew Stafford isn’t even behind center for the Lions anymore, so we’re not going to rely on this completely as a roadmap for this game.

If looking for some takeaways, Detroit was able to move the ball amply thorough the air and fill-in David Blough showed some aptitude with this offense in his first start last week. The Minnesota pass-defense was readily exploitable then and looked awful in spots against Seattle on Sunday, so that’s something Detroit can pursue. But with their 42-point output, the Vikings can do even more damage against a slip-sliding Detroit “D.” Kirk Cousins threw for 364 yards with a huge game from Stefon Diggs, with Dalvin Cook running for 142 yards and two scores. One could actually expect some of these themes to resurface on Sunday.

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Detroit: As Bad as it Seems?

It’s not easy to find the silver lining on a team that has won once since September 22 and has one cover in their last seven weeks. That cover occurred last week, as the Lions showed a little fire against Chicago. And as we look at this point spread this week, it’s certainly worth mentioning that all but one of the Lions’ games this season were one-score games. They have not lost a game this season by an amount that exceeds the point spread this week. Granted, their only game that wasn’t a one-score affair came against the same opponent they face this week. Nevertheless, it should make one hesitant to lay a significant number against a team that, despite all their failures this season, has not been embarrassed. It’s fine to consider the Lions a subpar football force based on the losing slide they are on, just as long as we don’t overstate the case.

There are problems on the Lions, to be sure. Injuries have cost them their run-game, though Bo Scarborough has added some needed fire in the backfield. And starting an unfancied rookie is not ideal, as they are now three-deep in the quarterback barrel. With Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones, and Danny Amendola, Blough has some targets with which to work. Looking at their first game, however, the other side of the ball is the bigger issue. And while they’ve been a bit more-rigid lately, that subpar secondary could get lit up, and Cook has already shown he can thrive against this “D.”

Things Detroit Can Exploit

It’s downright hard to lay a jumbo-sized number when the defense has so many issues, as Minnesota does. Several times a game, we see the secondary totally whiff on coverage, and that’s something Detroit can use to make a run at this big spread. Minnesota is tougher up front, and the Detroit O-line could be up against it in terms of a pass-rush and run-stop. But Detroit doesn’t run the ball a ton anyway. So that almost negates what the Vikes do best on defense. Blough might not inspire a ton of confidence, but with how many viable targets he has and with how well he did against a tougher Chicago secondary offers some hope in this matchup.

Minnesota didn’t get out of Seattle unscathed. We’ll know more about Dalvin Cook’s status closer to game-time, but a shoulder injury might prevent him from making the impact he made in the first game. Left tackle Riley Reiff went down with a concussion, and Adam Thielen is still dealing with a bad hammy. It’s not enough to make them a shadow of their former self, but it could be enough where a case for Detroit starts to hold more water.

Roadblocks to a Detroit Cover

The Vikings losing last week might actually make this harder on the Lions than if Minnesota had just beat Seattle. Facing a team, they easily beat before that is on a long losing slide would have set up an equation where Minnesota would overlook Detroit. Angling to get back on the winning track, we might not see that this week. After covering a lot of spreads earlier in the season, Detroit hasn’t been delivering at the betting windows lately, speaking to a certain lack of overall fire. One can only have so much confidence betting on this bunch.

Take the Road Dog

It would certainly not be all that surprising if the playoff-bound Vikes beat a nowhere-bound Lions by a big number this week. I just see a dinged-up Vikings team on the short week taking on a team that might not be as bad as their record, coming off the long week. While unquestionably bad, there are many levels within that classification. And Detroit is more of the kind of bad team that has trouble getting over the hump, while never really getting humiliated or blown out. I’ll take the points in this one.

Loot’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I’m betting on the Detroit Lions minus 13 points.

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