The Detroit Lions, with a 1-2 straight-up record and 0-3 mark against the spread, are one of the bigger disappointments in the NFL this season. Now they face a key NFC North showdown against the 2-1 Vikings, who are coming off a stunning straight-up victory against San Francisco 49ers last Sunday.
The NFL odds for this game were still somewhat in flux as of Wednesday because it remains unclear whether Lions’ quarterback Matt Stafford will be able to play. He suffered a leg injury and left in the second half of the Lions’ 44-41 overtime loss to the Tennessee Titans. He has yet to practice this week and head coach Jim Schwarz said it won’t be until at least Friday before a decision is made on Stafford.
According to the NFL odds boards, only two of the 10 sportsbooks listed had a number posted on the game. One has it Detroit -4.5 and the other has the Lions listed as 3-point favorites.
If Stafford cannot play Sunday, the Lions will once again turn to Shaun Hill. The veteran backup played well in relief of Stafford against the Titans, completing 10 of 13 for 172 yards, including a dramatic Hail Mary touchdown on the final play of regulation that sent the game to overtime.
The Lions enter this contest as the highest-rated passing attack in the NFL with 334 yards a game and their 436 yards of total offense ranks second in the NFL. They will be facing a stout Vikings’ team, though, which is ranked as the NFL’s No. 8 defense while giving up just 19.7 points a game.
Detroit swept the two games between these two teams a season ago. The Lions beat Minnesota 26-23 as 3-point home favorites in September and knocked off the Vikings 34-28 as 10-point road favorites in December.
This game will likely hinge on the status of Stafford. If he does play, look for the Lions to bounce-back from their tough Week Three loss to the Titans. If not, a Minnesota team that is playing above expectations will have a big chance to pull off the straight-up upset.