Thanksgiving Day is for friends, family, food and anything else you’re thankful for. It’s also for football, as the NFL again pushes out three interesting games for all to enjoy.
My NFL picks are finally back on track after another successful week, as the Detroit Lions pulled out a win over the Chicago Bears in week 11. They made it a lot more interesting than I’d have preferred, but I ignored the spread (which would have lost) and took their solid -144 Money Line.
That handed me my third straight win and moved my 2017 NFL picks up to 5-7 on the year. I’ve been slowly working my way back from a brutal 1-5 start, so this recent run is certainly one thing I’m thankful for.
I hope it’s also helping bettors cash in on the process and now that things have turned around, maybe that’ll make riding my NFL picks a little easier.
I’m looking at the Lions again this week, as they host the rival Vikings and could offer killer value at +140 at Bovada as a home underdog.
Minnesota Vikings (-160)
Detroit Lions (+140)
I know the Lions barely got me a win last week, but this is a huge game and they get to play at home on Thanksgiving Day. I feel like Vegas is devaluing the Lions a bit in this spot, but I also note the 8-2 Vikings look pretty darn good.
Minnesota took things up a notch last week, as they scored a convincing 24-7 home win over the Los Angeles Rams. That was a huge win and so far goes down as Minnesota’s best win of the season.
The Vikings might not be done yet, as a win on Thursday would split their season series (1-1) with Detroit and push them up to a three-game lead in the NFC North. That’d make Minnesota 9-2 and it’d be tough to imagine them losing the division crown moving forward.
A lot is on the line for Detroit this week. They’ve rebounded nicely with a three-game winning streak and at 6-4, are very real threats to Minnesota’s crown. The fact that they already stole the first game (14-7) in this season series and are looking for the sweep makes this a game Minnesota has to be worried about.
Most are going to side with the Vikings here. Minnesota is red hot with a six-game winning streak and has proven to be tough (3-1) on the road. The Vikings also have the better overall defense and despite losing stud rookie rusher Dalvin Cook to injury, have remained dominant (8th in the league) on the ground.
Detroit does not have an elite defense by the numbers, but it is an advantageous one. The Lions certainly got to Case Keenum the first time around, as they sacked him twice and held him to a 53% completion rate with no scores.
The Lions fly to the ball and rank 7th in interceptions. Their sack numbers are only average compared to the rest of the league, but they also have the ability to storm the line, as well.
I have two big takeaways from this matchup. The first is that the Lions need to win this game if they’re serious about returning to the playoffs. After taking down this rendition of Minnesota already, I like their chances to do so again at home.
The other thing is Case Keenum can’t possibly keep this up forever. This was never a starting caliber passer and while he has his best supporting cast of his career, the wheels are bound to fall off eventually.
That wasn’t the case in the face of a stiffer Rams defense last week, but Keenum has been borderline perfect and that’s a lot to ask every single week out. A healthy Teddy Bridgewater is also breathing down Keenum’s neck. It hasn’t gotten to him yet, but the second he falters, it very well could.
Detroit has been a staple of Thanksgiving Day football, so they’re used to the yearly tradition and the short week. Matthew Stafford has always been great at home, but he’s really been dialed in for these Thanksgiving home games.
Over the past five years, Stafford and co. have been lights out in this scene, with Detroit going 4-1, with their lone loss in that span coming in overtime. Detroit even faced the Vikings on this same stage last year, with the Lions walking away with a 16-13 win.
Minnesota is probably the better team on paper. They have the stronger defense, they can run the ball effectively and they’re not making mistakes on offense. However, both of these teams are on fire right now, the Lions are the ones at home and Stafford gives Detroit a clear leg up in terms of sheer talent under center.
Maybe I’m wrong in not forever trusting Case Keenum, but I can’t quite shake the feeling that eventually, things will unravel to the point where the Vikes have to go back to Bridgewater. I think that starts on Turkey Day and Detroit gets a huge win to stay alive for the NFC North title.
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