Vikings Dealt Major Disrespect by NFL, Vegas Ahead of Lions Rematch

Kirk Cousins, Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen

Getty The betting line for the Vikings' Week 13 matchup against the Lions shifted in Detroit's favor.

Oddsmakers in Las Vegas are banking on the Minnesota Vikings being the worst 10-2 of all time.

Opening Week 13 as 2.5-point favorites over the Detroit Lions, bettors poured their funds onto the game, shifting the betting line four points to make Detroit 1.5-point favorites.

Yes, the 10-2 Vikings are underdogs this week to the 5-7 Lions.

Vikings Are Winning Despite Analytics

Stats be darned, but that hasn’t stopped Vegas from hedging their bets with the numbers.

Minnesota was the first team to go 8-2 to start a season despite having a negative point differential — which was largely washed by a 40-3 drubbing by the Dallas Cowboys on November 20.

However, that number has stayed in the minds of bettors as the Vikings continue to climb the NFL ranks despite their reputation and analytics.

Eeking out win after win by a single score hasn’t done Minnesota any favors, but the Vikings do own the second-best record in the league despite just a +10-point differential. Analytics haven’t been kind to the Vikings, which rank 20th in Football Outsiders’ DVOA, a metric that measures team success rate on every play relative to the rest of the league.

Minnesota has struggled in several areas while excelling in a few key areas — what head coach Kevin O’Connell calls “winning in the margins.”

However, allowing nearly 400 yards per game on defense as the league’s 31st-ranked unit is an area that needs to improve approaching the postseason.

From Football Outsiders:

Here’s a quick restack of the Vikings’ raw statistics and rankings:

  • Yards Per Game: 335.8 (19th).
  • Yards Allowed Per Game: 398.7 (31st).
  • Net Yards Per Play: 5.19 (21st).
  • Net Yards Allowed Per Play: 6.03 (30th).
  • Third-Down Conversion Rate: 40.6% (13th).
  • Third-Down Conversions Allowed: 38.3% (13th).
  • Red Zone Touchdown Rate: 61.4% (ninth).
  • Red Zone Touchdown Rate Allowed: 56.8% (20th).

Those are the numbers of a 6-6 team. The Vikings hold major advantages in categories like starting field position (30.2, third in the NFL) and penalty yardage differential (+159 yards, second to the Falcons), and of course they are +8 in takeaways (third to the Eagles and Cowboys). That’s still the profile of, at best, an 8-4 team.

In summary, don’t blame DVOA for hating the Vikings. Every metric except the standings hates the Vikings.

Vikings-Lions Matchups Have Been Nail-Biters

The Vikings can clinch the NFC North division title this week with a road win against Detroit.

However, if the past four meetings are an indicator, Minnesota is in for a dogfight with Dan Campbell’s Lions. The Vikings have gone 3-1 in the past four meetings, but by an average win margin of just 2.5 points.

Detroit was winless through 10 weeks before upsetting Minnesota 29-27 last season. They went on to win two more games and have ridden that momentum into the 2022 season.

The Lions have won four of their last five games with their only loss a 28-25 defeat to the Buffalo Bills. Minnesota edged the Lions 28-24 on September 25 but needed to mount a 14-point comeback in the fourth quarter.

Although that’s become routine for Kirk Cousins, Justin Jefferson and Co., they can’t expect a Detroit team that’s riding one of its best winning streaks since 2016 to shoot itself in the foot again.

And after another third-quarter lull that led to just 89 yards of offense in the second half of the Vikings’ 27-22 win over the New York Jets, the Vikings need to find a way to put forth a complete game going down the stretch.

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