The Minnesota Vikings enter Sunday’s Week 3 home matchup with the Detroit Lions as two-point favorites, according to My Bookie. If you’re a straight-up gambler, Minnesota is -130 favorites while Detroit is +110 underdogs.
The Vikings are one of the toughest teams to evaluate thus far in 2017. At home against two mediocre teams, they’ve been electric and looked like a championship-caliber team. But in their one road game against a more challenging opponent, Minnesota looked like a bottom feeder.
Detroit, meanwhile, has played like an elite football team all season. They ran away from Arizona for an easy Week 1 victory and then marched past the New York Giants on Monday Night in Week 2. The Lions are inches from boasting an undefeated record after Golden Tate’s last-second touchdown effort was stopped just short of the end zone against undefeated Atlanta last week.
Despite a pair of rather explosive offenses, My Bookie’s over/under betting total sits at just 42.5 points. Minnesota is the second-ranked offense in the NFL while Detroit comes in at 15th.
Though, to My Bookie’s credit, Detroit has not scored over 20 points in regulation time against the Vikings since 2013. Matchups between these NFC North rivals have tended to be lower-scoring affairs in recent years.
Time: Noon CT
Commentators: Thom Brennaman, Chris Spielman and Peter Schrager
Out of 110 total matchups, Minnesota leads the all-time series with a 71-37-2 record (though Detroit did win the first five meetings in history).
Detroit has had Minnesota’s number recently despite the lopsided history. The Lions have won eight of 14 matchups since 2010 and have swept the Vikings in two of the past three seasons.
In 2016, Detroit pulled off an improbable comeback to win 22-16 in overtime at U.S. Bank Stadium. A few weeks later, a Darius Slay interception in the waning moments helped the Lions top the Vikings 16-13 thanks to game-winning Matt Prater field goal as time expired.
Minnesota’s success (or lack thereof) against Detroit has typically correlated with its success the rest of the season in recent years. The Vikings swept the Lions in each of their last four playoff seasons (2008, 2009, 2012, 2015). In all non-playoff years since 2007, the Vikings have either split or been swept by Detroit.
The Vikings only listed four players on the injury report throughout the week. Starting tackle Mike Remmers missed Thursday’s practice due to an illness but returned Friday and is expected to be full go on Sunday. Backup tackle Rashod Hill was added to the injury report Friday due to a knee issue and is listed as questionable.
And of course, quarterback Sam Bradford will miss another game with his weird knee condition that nobody really seems to know about. Week 6 against Green Bay at U.S. Bank Stadium appears to be the targeted return for Bradford, but no reports nor rumors appear to be concrete at this time.
OUT: QB Sam Bradford
QUESTIONABLE: T Rashod Hill
Detroit’s injury report is much more crowded than Minnesota’s. Fourteen different players were listed on the report at some time this week. The status of eight Detroit players is in some form of doubt, whether they have been declared out or are listed as questionable.
Guard TJ Lang missed both Wednesday and Friday practices with a fibula injury, but it appears as if his status is not in doubt Sunday. However, Detroit is will not have its interim starting left guard in Zac Kerin and third-string tailback Dwayne Washington.
Additionally, Kenny Golladay did not practice on Friday and, while he is listed as questionable, appears unlikely to play Sunday.
OUT: OL Zac Kerin, RB Dwayne Washington
QUESTIONABLE: DE Ezekiel Ansah, S Don Carey, LB Jarrad Davis, C Travis Swenson, WR Kenny Golladay, S Tavon Wilson
Detroit is quite literally a couple of inches from rolling into Minneapolis on Sunday as the only undefeated team in the NFL. Quarterback Matthew Stafford leads a pass-happy offense that relies heavily on the slot prowess of Golden Tate and Theo Riddick out of the backfield. This offensive line is a 50/50 proposition; the right side combination of guard TJ Lang and Ricky Wagner is as good as any in the NFL. However, left tackle Greg Robinson and (player to be named) who fills in for Zac Kerin at left guard leave a lot to be desired.
Defensively, Detroit’s secondary has emerged as one of the best in the NFL. Darius “Big Play” Slay repeatedy lives up to his nickname as the team’s No 1 cornerback. Glover Quin is a tremendous instinctive safety who excels reading the quarterback. Miles Killebrew’s versatility as a safety or linebacker allows defensive coordinator Teryl Austin to get creative with disguises. In other words, Case Keenum, Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen face a much tougher test this week than a very depleted Tampa Bay secondary they torched last week.
Stafford’s uncanny ability to elevate his play and the team’s play in the fourth quarter is starting to become more than just a coincidence. In what should be a close game, Stafford’s track record is impossible to ignore against Case Keenum.
Lions 23, Vikings 20