Vikings vs. Lions: Spread Info, Line and Predictions
An NFC North clash between the Minnesota Vikings and Detroit Lions will sort out which team is the better at the NFL season's quarter mark.
The Lions are coming off a heartbreaking overtime loss in Tennessee last weekend, so they may be emotionally drained. They come in as the perceived favorite based on last year's successes. but a slow start has them at a 1-2 record.
The Vikings played their best game of the Christian Ponder era last weekend, upsetting the 49ers at home. This team has been a scrappy bunch; the defense has kept them within striking instance in the fourth quarter.
Here's everything you need to know about the Lions-Vikings matchup, including the spread, over/under and a game prediction.
When: Sunday, Sept. 30 at 1:00 PM
Where: Ford Field, Detroit
TV: FOX (Check Local Listings)
Live Stream: NFL Sunday Ticket
Radio: 97.1 The Ticket (Detroit), KFAN 100.3 (Minnesota)
Spread: Lions -4.5 (Sportsbook)
This number will move depending on Matt Stafford's status, so be wary of placing any wagers for fun at this number. If you're a fan of Shaun Hill, though, this is where the line is likely to stay. No surprises with this spread here.
It seems Vegas believes the Lions will come out angry and bring their competitive fire, as they are covering key numbers three and four.
This one will likely come down to the wire, so don't make any bets without being willing to sweat it out.
Apart from the 85-point blowout last weekend against the Titans, the Lions have hovered around this point total in their first two games.
Ditto for the Vikings (in which their win over the 49ers was a Vegas anomaly, although it was probably expected to be the same score win in San Francisco's favor). Nevertheless, Vegas knows what they're doing.
If I had to lean any way here, I would go over. I'm not scared by Matt Stafford's absence because Shaun Hill is not afraid to sling it; he's a natural fit for this offense and he knows to look for Calvin Johnson. Minnesota's offense is no slouch either, they'll be able to be successful against a questionable Lions defense.
Injury Report (Via USA Today)
QB Christian Ponder (Neck) - Limited in practice
TE Kyle Rudolph (Quadriceps) - Limited in practice
DE Jared Allen (Neck) - Limited in practice
DE D'Aundre Reed (Calf) - Limited in practice
LB Erin Henderson (Concussion) - Didn't practice
S Andrew Sendejo (Ankle) - Didn't practice
S Mistral Raymond (Ankle) - Didn't practice
QB Matthew Stafford (Hip) - Limited in practice
RB Mikel Leshoure (Groin) - Limited in practice
TE Tony Scheffler (Calf) - Limited in practice
OG Rob Sims (Knee) - Limited in practice
DE Lawrence Jackson (Calf) - Limited in practice
DT Corey Williams (Knee) - Didn't practice
LB Travis Lewis (Quad) - Didn't practice
LB Justin Durant (Back) - Limited in practice
S Louis Delmas (Knee) - Didn't practice
S Amari Spievey (Groin) - Limited in practice
Big Fantasy Plays
Minnesota: Percy Harvin
The Vikings' offensive spark plug should be exciting heading into a matchup with the Lions' 20th-ranked pass defense. Minnesota has been smart to move Harvin all over the field and use him in a variety of ways; defenses can't account for him and Adrian Peterson for an entire 60 minutes.
Ultimately, Harvin's speed will ultimately win the day, whether it's by virtue of a WR screen, a running play out of the backfield, or an old-fashioned go-route. Expect big points out of the Vikings' dynamo wideout.
Detroit: Calvin Johnson
On the opposite sideline, the Lions have a pretty good fantasy football wideout themselves. Johnson is a fantasy must-start and should have a field day whether he's catching passes from Shaun Hill or Matt Stafford.
Like I've said before, Shaun Hill knows he has a receiving specimen on his side and he's not afraid to use him. That should be well known after the Lions switched quarterbacks last week and Johnson still finished with gaudy numbers: 10 receptions, 164 yards and a touchdown. No reason to expect anything different.
Keys to Victory
Minnesota: Getting the Running Game Going Early
If Minnesota can get Peterson and Toby Gerhart grabbing first downs and controlling the clock in the first half, they'll make this game a close one.
Having a running game at his disposal does wonders for Christian Ponder. It allows him to go play-action and roll out, in which he's most effective. The running game also gives the Vikings balance on offense; they cannot be a pass-heavy team because they do not have an excess of receiving threats on the outside.
Detroit: Getting Defense Stops in the Second Half
The Lions' defense has been stingy at times, but god-awful at other points. They gave up 44 points, albeit not all the defense's fault, to a Titans team that was held to single digits the week before at San Diego.
Louis Delmas and Co. could use a top-flight performance at home to alluviate Shaun Hill or Matt Stafford, whoever is quarterbacking the Lions Sunday.
Not letting Christian Ponder get into a groove during the second half will destroy any victory bid Minnesota will have. Then the Lions can stack the box against Peterson and render the Vikings one-dimensional. Calvin Johnson and the offense can handle the rest.
Prediction: Lions 30 Vikings 27
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