Minnesota Vikings (4-2) at Detroit Lions (2-2-1)
The Lions have arguably had the most exciting season of any team in the league. All 5 games they’ve played have been decided by 4 points or fewer and the game that was decided by 4 points was decided on a last second touchdown. If a few things had gone differently, they could be 5-0 right now, but they could also be 0-5, with both wins coming by exactly a field goal, including one game in which they had a -6.23% first down rate differential, but pulled ahead due to a kickoff return. Their loss in Green Bay last week was controversial because of some bad calls, but they could have still lost that game even without those calls, despite getting gifted a trio of turnovers. Turnover margin tends to be inconsistent on a week-to-week basis and they lost the first down rate battle convincingly (-9.33%). Their 2-2-1 record is fitting, as this more or less an average team.
The Vikings, meanwhile, look to be emerging as a contender. Quarterback Kirk Cousins isn’t having a bad year overall all things considered and if he’s the weak point of this team this team is in pretty good shape. Arguably the most well-rounded team in the league, the Vikings are the only team to rank in the top-10 in both first down rate and first down rate allowed. Overall, they rank 5th in first down rate differential +5.45% and are in 4th in my roster rankings, with no significant injuries to speak of. There are some question marks on their offensive line, but they get right guard Josh Kline back from injury this week and they held their own without him against a tough Philadelphia front last week. I have this line calculated at Minnesota -3, so while we’re not getting much line value with the Vikings at -2, they are the pick for pick ‘em purposes.
Minnesota Vikings 20 Detroit Lions 17
Pick against the spread: Minnesota -2