Detroit Lions (3-4) at Minnesota Vikings (4-3-1)
This game has a lot of injury uncertainty. The Lions could get Ezekiel Ansah back for the first time since week 1, but that’s far from a guarantee, as he continues to be limited in practice. Meanwhile, both right guard TJ Lang and cornerback Darius Slay, two of the Lions’ better players, could miss this game with injuries of their own. Their roster also took a hit when they sent contract year wide receiver Golden Tate to the Eagles for a 3rd round pick this past week. They may struggle to adjust in their first week without their talented slot receiver.
On the other side, the Vikings have had as many injuries as anyone this year, but they seem to finally be getting healthier. Defensive linemen Everson Griffen and Linval Joseph have returned in recent weeks, safety Andrew Sendejo looks like to follow them this week, and left tackle Riley Reiff, cornerback Xavier Rhodes, and running back Dalvin Cook could also return this week. The only players ruled out so far are linebacker Anthony Barr and right guard Tom Compton, but they also have several highly questionable players, including the aforementioned players possibly making their return and wide receiver Stefon Diggs, who didn’t practice all week with a rib injury. With so many key players on both sides having uncertain status, it’s hard to be confident in either side this week.
That being said, I would recommend the Vikings for pick ‘em purposes for a few reasons and not just because they seem to be trending in the right direction injury wise. The Lions have had little success against playoff caliber opponents in recent years, going 19-36-2 ATS and 19-38 straight up in games against opponents with a winning record since Matt Stafford’s first full season in 2011. On top of that, the Vikings are going into their bye and big home favorites tend to take care of business going into a bye, going 41-19-1 ATS since 2008 as home favorites of 6+ before a bye. The Vikings barely qualify for that threshold here, but the logic makes sense, as the Vikings should be able to take care of business against a Detroit team that has struggled in tougher games in recent years. This is a no confidence pick because of the injury uncertainty on both sides, but I like the Vikings’ chances a little more.
Minnesota Vikings 27 Detroit Lions 20
Pick against the spread: Minnesota -6