Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#469 Detroit Lions vs.
#470 Minnesota Vikings
Sunday, September 25, 2022 at 1:00pm EDT
U.S. Bank Syadium, Minneapolis
Written by Mark Ruelle

Everybody's favorite Hard Knocks team, the Detroit Lions, hit the road in an NFC North battle as they get set to take on the Minnesota Vikings in Minnesota. The Lions' offense continued to roll and they evened their record at 1-1 with a win over the Washington Commanders in Detroit. The Vikings, after an impressive opening win over the Packers, fell back to earth with a disappointing loss at Philadelphia on Monday night to even their record at 1-1. The opening kickoff on Sunday is scheduled for 1:00pm EST.

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Motoring in Motown

After nearly coming back from a large deficit in their home opener, the Lions didn't dare fall behind in their second game. The Lions built a 22-0 halftime lead and held on for a 36-27 win over the Washington Commanders. After waiting 13 week for a win last season, the Lions quickly got in the win column in 2022.

“That was a good win for us," Lions head coach and breakout star of Hard Knocks this summer Dan Campbell said. “We needed that. That was No. 1.”

Lions quarterback Jared Goff was 20-of-34 for 256 yards with four touchdowns. Wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown had his second straight big week. He caught nine passes for 116 yards and two touchdowns while also leading the Lions in rushing with 68 yards on just two carries. A banged-up D'Andre Swift also had a big day with five carries for 56 yards and two catches for 31 yards and a touchdown. The Lions racked up 425 yards of total offense on the day, including 191 on the ground. Defensively, the Lions allowed 396 yards of total offense including a whopping 308 through the air. They had the game's only turnover with an interception and had five sacks in the game and 11 quarterback hits.

After two weeks of the season, the Lions offense seems to be motoring right along. The Lions rank 2nd behind the Chiefs in points per game, 4th in red zone scoring percentage, 3rd in rushing yards per game and 19th in passing yards per game. On the defensive side of the ball, Detroit ranks 30th in total defense, 31st in points allowed per game, 26th in rushing defense and 27th in passing defense. Detroit is 16th in turnover ratio with a net rating of zero at the moment. This could be quite a difficult road challenge for the upstart Lions this week.

Key Injuries: D'Andre Swift and rookie DE sensation Aiden Hutchinson both sat out on Thursday with injuries. Both are likely to give it a go again on Sunday. Meanwhile TE TJ Hockenson was limited with a hip injury on Thursday but he will also likely play on Sunday.

Not so Fast

After looking like world-beaters in their first game of the season in easily dismantling arch-rival Green Bay, Minnesota came crashing back down to earth on Monday night in Philadelphia. Spotting the Eagles a 24-7 lead by halftime and allowing Philly QB Jalen Hurts to run wild for over 300 yards of total offense, the Vikings never could quite get back in the game in the second half as they fell easily by that same margin, 24-7 in a matchup of NFC playoff hopefuls.

“It felt at times, me included, like we pressed a little bit," Vikings coach Kevin O’Connell said. Just as quickly as he had won his first NFL game as a head coach last week, O'Connell lost his first-ever game just a week later.

After a stellar performance in week one, Minnesota quarterback Kirk Cousins continued his career failures in prime time. Cousins went 27-of-46 for 221 yards and one touchdown but threw three interceptions as he fell to just 10-18 in prime-time games, including a pitiful 2-10 on Monday nights. Star wideout Justin Jefferson was also grounded by the Eagles' defense as he managed six catches for just 48 yards in the loss. The Vikings' offense was just 4-for-12 on third down and was held to just 4.2 yards per catch on the night. Defensively, very little went right for the Vikings, particularly in the first half. The Vikings gave up 486 yards of total offense including 323 yards passing on the night. They were dominated in time of possession as well, 36:14 to 23:46.

Two contrasting games offensively have left the Vikings in the middle of pack in a number of key categories. The Vikings are just 20th in total offense after two weeks. On the ground, Minnesota ranks 21st in yards per game while the Vikings rank 13th in passing offense. The Vikings have faired better defensively overall, despite the loss on Monday night. They rank 6th in points allowed per game, 24th in rushing yards allowed per game and 29th in passing yards allowed per game. The Vikings have a turnover differential of zero thus far, losing the turnover battle 2-0 in week two but winning it 2-0 in the opener against Green Bay.

Key Injuries: Two Vikings didn't participate in Thursday's practice but both are vital to the team: CB Andrew Booth and S Harrison Smith. Booth missed week 2 with his quad injury and could be in danger of missing a second straight game. More pressing is the health of Smith, who suffered a concussion on Monday night. His status will truly be a game-time decision.

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Full-Game Side Bet

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This is a healthy line to invest in for a game that likely would have been at 10 points or slightly higher had the Vikings shown up on Monday night. True, the Vikings' defense was certainly exposed by the Eagles' run game, something the Packers didn't commit to in the opener against Minnesota. The difference in this game will likely come down to the setting. Minnesota should be quite comfortable at home against a Detroit defense that is in the bottom third of the league, particularly against the pass. After being held in check in Philly, expect a return to dominance from Justin Jefferson in this game. Jefferson wants to stake his claim as the best receiver in football and what better way than going up against a secondary allowing over 300 yards passing per game. Away from the bright lights of prime time, Cousins should again find a rhythm and utilize all of his offensive weapons. Don't be surprised if Vikings RB Dalvin Cook has his first breakout game of 2022 with the Lions likely playing more of a base nickel against the Vikings' passing attack.

On the other side of the ball, the Lions have thrived on the ground but this will be a game in which they're playing from behind early so their run game is unlikely to thrive in this matchup. The Vikings will return to the form that dominated GB in week one and hand the Lions a double-digit loss.

Lay the points and go with the Vikings.

Prediction: Vikings -5.5

Full-Game Total Pick

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The Viking offense should be humming at home against the very weak Lions' defense. If DE Hutchinson is limited in any way with his hip, Cousins could really have a big day. Jefferson should have very little trouble exposing the Lions' week secondary and, as I pointed out above, look for Cook to pile up the yardage with room to work within the middle of the defense. As for the Lions, Goff will likely be forced to throw early in this one with his team trailing and the Lions have not had trouble putting points on the board. I expect a game played in the high 50s with two offenses that are capable of producing both on the ground and in the air. The Lions have gone to the over in four straight games and the Vikings are 8-1 to the over in their last nine games after losing the previous game by 14 or more points.

Take the over, 53.5 points.

Prediction: Over 53.5
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Written By Mark Ruelle , "Mark Ruelle"

Mark has been a sports fanatic since childhood. He is also an avid follower of sports analytics and has used it in his own betting analysis for over two decades. Now we have Mark on our team here at Stat Salt. He holds degrees in marketing, broadcasting, and English and uses this vast array of assets to dissect and analyze game matchups. Mark will provide you with a wide variety of statistics to consider and a strong opinion in each matchup that he covers. Please follow him daily for an up-to-the-minute analysis of all the important games.