Detroit Lions (4-4) at Minnesota Vikings (5-4)
Like Indianapolis +1 at Jacksonville, this game is one I really wished I would have made a play on last week. Like Jacksonville, Minnesota was a favorite last week in the early line for this game, -2.5, but now they are +2.5 here at home, a massive line movement. If they had been favorites here, we would have had three powerful trends working against Minnesota. For one, they would be divisional home favorites before being divisional road dogs as they head to Chicago in their next game. Teams are 14-47 ATS in this spot since 2002.
Two, the Vikings would have been favorites off a loss as dogs before being dogs. This is the classic sandwich game situation, coming off a loss to Seattle and going into Chicago in their next game. Teams are 57-82 ATS in this spot since 2002. Three, the Lions would have been road dogs trying to avenge a same season home upset loss. Teams are 50-25 ATS since 2002.
The Lions are still in a few good spots, this week, though not as good as if the Vikings would have been favored. Home dogs are 53-71 ATS before a bye since 2002, which is a situation the Vikings are in, including 10-19 ATS if they’re going to be touchdown dogs after the bye. Meanwhile, teams that have yet to have their bye are 4-13 ATS since 1989 as home dogs. That doesn’t happen often, but it makes sense. Teams are exhausted from playing 9 games in 9 weeks and teams that are home dogs tend to be inferior teams. Being exhausted and inferior is a bad combination. Finally, road favorites are 48-29 ATS off a win as road favorites. The Lions won in Jacksonville last week. It’s not as strong, but the trends are with Detroit.
Furthermore, unlike in the Jacksonville/Indianapolis game, this line movement is legitimate, or at least more legitimate, not one where I would be really scared to still take the Lions despite all the action being on them and despite the huge line movement and despite the odds makers getting slaughtered last week (2-12) and needing a bounce back week. That’s why I didn’t make a play on Indianapolis last night. I seemed like a set up.
The reason this line movement is more legitimate is that it’s injury related. Percy Harvin is out for the Vikings and, aside from Adrian Peterson, he’s their only offensive weapon. He’s also an asset on special teams and scored on a return against the Lions in the Vikings’ win over them early this year. Without Harvin, life just gets harder for Christian Ponder and it’s pretty hard for him to begin with.
In his last 4 games, Christian Ponder completed 73 of 126 (57.9%) for 724 yards (5.7 YPA), 4 touchdowns, and 6 interceptions, all less than stellar team performances (0-3-1 ATS, 1-3 SU). Unsurprisingly, he had his worst game last week, going 11 of 22 for 63 yards and a pick, when Harvin didn’t play the whole game and was playing hurt. The only reason it was even close against Seattle was because Adrian Peterson went nuts, but as talented as he is, he can’t do it by himself.
That promising start 4-1 with wins over San Francisco and Detroit seems like a thing of the past. That’s another reason why this line movement is legitimate, that and the fact that Detroit is suddenly soaring. Ever since their bye, they are 3-1 SU and 4-0 ATS and have been playing especially well since Nate Burleson got hurt, allowing young receivers Titus Young and Ryan Broyles to get more playing time.
We are getting some line value with the Vikings. The rate of sustaining drives differential method says this line should be Minnesota -1, while the yards per play differential method says this line should be Minnesota -2.5. However, that doesn’t take into account Ponder’s struggles, Harvin’s absence, and the Lions’ rejuvenance since the bye. I think this line of Detroit -2.5 is perfectly reasonable and the trends are with Detroit as well. Detroit +2.5 would have been a significant bet, so as long as this line is -3 or smaller, I’m taking the Lions. That’s being said, it’s a small play because this seems like a very bad week to bet on a huge public lean given that the odds makers got killed last week.
Public lean: Detroit (new thing I’m adding, siding with the odds makers on bets is not a bad thing to do since they make so much money, so I’m listing this here to allow readers to “fade” the public, if they so choose, in this example, the odds makers win if Minnesota covers)
Sharps lean: DET 22 MIN 3
Final update: Sharps love Detroit more than anyone this week. The Vikings are reeling ans losing Harvin is really like losing a quarterback to most teams. I’ll add a unit.
Detroit Lions 24 Minnesota Vikings 17
Pick against spread: Detroit -2.5 (-110) 2 units