Detroit Lions (0-4) at Minnesota Vikings (1-3)
The Vikings are just 1-3, but they have played much better than their record, playing teams that are a combined 12-4 through four weeks who could all end up as playoff qualifiers and playing all of their teams close, losing by a combined 11 points to actually give them a positive point differential at +2 on the season. I thought the Vikings would be a significantly improved team in 2021 because their defense is much healthier and more talented than a year ago and, while their record hasn’t shown it, they have been at least a solid team overall and have been much more balanced than a year ago.
This week, things get a lot easier for the Vikings, who host a Lions team that was already one of the weakest in the league entering the season and now is very injury depleted. In total, they are missing their top-2 offensive linemen Taylor Decker and Frank Ragnow, their top edge rusher Romeo Okwara, and their likely top cornerback Jeff Okudah, with Ragnow and Okwara just going down in the past couple weeks. On top of that, talented edge defender Trey Flowers has missed the past two games and is no guarantee to return this week, while left tackle Penei Sewell, by default their best offensive lineman now, might also miss this game.
This line might seem high at Minnesota -10, but I actually have the Vikings favored by 15 in my calculated line, as they could easily be 3-1 with wins over quality teams and in that case would likely be favored by at least two touchdowns against one of the two worst teams in the league. The Vikings are also in a bit of a good spot in their third straight home game, which has about a 55.3% cover rate all-time. This is a smaller bet for now, but if this line happens to move down from 10, I would increase this play to a high confidence pick.
Update: Dalvin Cook has been ruled out for the Vikings, but this line has dropped to 9.5 to compensate. I already had Cook factored in as limited, so the line movement is the more important development to me. I am increasing this to a high confidence pick, as the Lions are still in much worse injury shape and are a much less talented team to begin with.
Minnesota Vikings 28 Detroit Lions 13
Pick against the spread: Minnesota -9.5