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What: Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions
When: Sunday, October 20 at 1:00 pm ET
Where: Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan
How (TV): FOX
Latest point spread: Vikings -1, Lions +1
This is one of the better NFL matchups in Week 7, with the 4-2 Minnesota Vikings traveling slightly south to take on the 2-2-1 Detroit Lions to further complicate the four-way dispute that is happening in the NFC North right now.
Head coach Mike Zimmer’s Vikings are coming off a big Week 6 win over the Philadelphia Eagles, whereas the Lions still have a bitter taste in their mouth after losing in the final seconds to Green Bay Packers on Monday Night Football.
This critical black-and-blue battle is essentially a straight pick ‘em bet and should be thoroughly entertaining, so here we take a quick look at how both have set themselves up for Week 7.
Check out also: NFL Power Rankings Week 7.
The Minnesota Vikings have won their last two games and their highly paid quarterback Kirk Cousins is finally looking like a good gamble as he has been completing almost seventy percent of his passes.
The other best thing about the Vikings offense nowadays is running back Dalvin Cook, a hard-hitting, dual-threat rusher who is averaging 5.4 yards per carry right now and 9.3 yards per catch, making him the fourth most productive running back in the league right now.
Of course, Minnesota’s defense has been playing lights out this season, keeping opponents to just over 300 total yards per game with only four other teams in the NFL allowing less, and the 15.5 points per game they allow opponents is the 6th lowest average in the league, probably the reason they’re slightly favored in this one.
The Detroit Lions are coming off an incredibly disappointing 22-23 Week 6 loss to the Green Bay Packers that should have been a win except for two questionable “illegal use of hands” penalties and an uncalled pass interference that seemed to totally tip the game in the Packers’ direction.
Head coach Matt Patricia knows he can’t totally blame the refs for the loss because it was his defense that let the Packers and Aaron Rodgers get right back in it, and it’s that same 29th ranked defense that will need to play above themselves if they are to have any chance against these killer Vikings.
Quarterback Matthew Stafford has been playing well (he’s thrown 9 touchdown passes with just 2 interceptions this season) and with receivers Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones showing up and rookie tight end phenom T.J. Hockenson looking Gronk-like out there, they more than make up for a Lions’ rushing attack ranked just 16th in the NFL after six weeks of play.
These two teams have met 115 total times (including 0 postseason games), with Detroit winning 39 of those times and Minnesota winning the other 74 games, and they have also tied each other twice.
Last season, the Vikings won both matchups against the Lions, the first one in November by a score of 24-9 and the second time in December by a score of 27-9.
If the Vikings win this matchup, they’ll move to 5-2-0 and stay close to the dominating Green Bay Packers in the NFC North, who are going into Week 7 with a 5-1 record.
But if the Lions come out winners in this one, they’ll be 3-2-1 and stay somewhat in the divisional race, making the NFC North look like it has four teams with realistic chances of coming out on top at season’s end.
Who’s favored to win this Week 7 Vikings-Lions matchup?
Which team has a better offense? Defense? Special teams?
Which team’s quarterback is more likely to lead his team to victory?
We’re going to briefly compare the Vikings and the Lions next and attempt to answer those questions and more.
Passing attack: The Minnesota Vikings have the 25th ranked passing offense in the league right now, averaging 213.37 yards per game through the air after six weeks.
Quarterback Kirk Cousins is currently ranked the 19th most productive passer in the league having completed 108-of-155 passes for 1,374 yards and 9 touchdowns with 3 interceptions and a completion percentage of 69.7.
The Vikings’ leading receiver after six weeks is Stefon Diggs, who is currently 19th in the league with 23 catches for 420 yards and 4 touchdowns.
Rushing attack: The Vikings’ rushing attack is ranked 3rd in the NFL after averaging 159.0 yards on the ground per game.
Dalvin Cook is the Vikings’ best runner and he is currently the 4th best in the NFL with 108 carries for 583 yards and 6 rushing touchdowns, averaging 5.4 yards per carry.
Minnesota has scored 150 total points this season, or 25 per game, which is the 11th best total in the NFL.
Listed as questionable for Week 7: offensive guard Josh Kline (foot) and offensive tackle Riley Reiff (ankle).
Injury notes: tight end David Morgan (knee) is listed as PUP-R, and wide receivers Chad Beebe (ankle) and Josh Doctson (leg) have both been placed on injured reserve.
Passing attack: Detroit has the 9th best passing attack in the league right now after averaging 262.2 yards through the air each game.
Quarterback Matthew Stafford is now the 18th best passer after completing 106-of-173 passes for 1,387 yards and 9 touchdowns with 2 interceptions and a completion percentage of 61.3.
The Lions’ best receiver is currently Kenny Golladay, who has caught 24 passes for 364 yards with 4 touchdowns in six weeks, ranked 33rd among NFL receivers right now.
Rushing attack: Detroit has the 16th ranked rushing attack, so far averaging 107.6 yards on the ground per game.
Kerryon Johnson is the Lions’ best runner and now he is the 21st most productive in the NFL with 87 carries for 285 yards and 2 touchdowns, averaging 3.3 yards per carry.
Detroit has scored 119 points in 2019, averaging 23.8 per game, which is the 20th highest scoring average in the NFL right now.
Listed as questionable for Week 7: there are no Detroit offensive players currently listed as questionable for Week 7.
Injury notes: wide receiver Jermaine Kearse (leg) has been placed on injured reserve.
These two teams are offensively close overall, but the Minnesota Vikings have a running back who averages 5.4 yards a carry while the Lions have one who averages just 3.3, so the offensive advantage goes to the Vikings in this one.
Pass coverage: The Vikings have the 7th best pass defense in 2019 so far, allowing opponents to throw for 218.8 yards through the air per game.
Minnesota’s defense has 6 team picks and they have 17 sacks total.
Run coverage: The Vikings are the 9th best NFL team against the run right now after allowing opponents to run for 91.5 yards per game.
Minnesota has allowed its opponents to score 93 total points, or 15.5 per game, which is 6th lowest in the NFL.
Vikings’ middle linebacker Eric Kendricks is worth watching all game, so far with 49 total tackles (T-15th most in the NFL), half a sack and a forced fumble.
While everyone else is watching defensive end Danielle Hunter (he’s excellent), be sure to check out the Vikings’ other defensive end, Everson Griffen, who has 3.0 sacks already, an interception, four passed defended and 15 total tackles.
If you’re Matthew Stafford, you might not want to throw the ball around Minnesota defensive back Anthony Harris, who has 2 interceptions already with 6 passes defended, a fumble recovery and 28 total tackles.
Listed as questionable for Week 7: linebackers Kentrell Brothers (hamstring) and Ben Gedeon (concussion).
Injury notes: cornerback Holton Hill (suspension) is listed as OUT with no new players placed on injured reserve.
Detroit Lions Overall Defense
Pass coverage: The Lions’ defense is 28th best against the pass, allowing their opponents to throw for an average of 280.0 yards per matchup.
Detroit’s defense has 3 interceptions on opposing quarterbacks and they have 10 total sacks after six weeks.
Run coverage: The Lions are 27th best against a rushing attack, allowing opponents to run for an average of 133.8 yards per game.
Detroit has allowed its opponents to score 118 total points this season, or 23.6 per matchup, which is 11th fewest in the NFL.
Make sure to look for Lions’ defensive back Tracy Walker whenever he’s roaming the secondary, he’s already posted 43 tackles, has an interception and 5 passes defended.
Kirk Cousins best keep an eye out for Detroit’s outside linebacker named Devon Kennard, who has 3.0 sacks, 6 quarterback hits, a recovered fumble and 17 total tackles (4 for a loss).
Cornerback Justin Coleman has been in beast mode in the Lions’ secondary this season, so far with an interception, 10 passes defended, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, and 16 total tackles.
Listed as questionable for Week 7: defensive tackle Mike Daniels (foot), safety Quandre Diggs (hamstring), defensive end Da’Shawn Hand (elbow) and cornerback Amani Oruwariye (knee).
Injury notes: defensive end Austin Bryant (arm) and defensive tackle Darius Kilgo (undisclosed) have both been placed on injured reserve.
The Minnesota Vikings have a huge defensive advantage over the Detroit Lions by being far better against both the pass and the run, it’s a simple as that.
Minnesota’s veteran punter, Britton Colquitt, is in his tenth NFL season, his first with the Vikings, and this season he has punted 22 times for a net average of 42.1 yards per punt, which is the 18th best in the league.
Detroit’s punter, Sam Martin, is in his seventh NFL season, and so far in 2019, he has punted 24 times for a net average of 40.8 yards per punt, 28th best in the league.
Minnesota’s placekicker, Dan Bailey, is in his ninth NFL season, second with the Vikings.
Bailey has made 8-of-9 field goals this season, his longest a 50 yarder, and so far, he has missed one extra point attempt (16/17).
Detroit’s placekicker, Matt Prater, is in his 13th NFL season (6th with the Lions).
Prater has gone 12-for-14 this season, his longest a 55-yarder, and he has missed one extra point attempt (11/12).
Minnesota’s punt returner, defensive back Marcus Sherels, is replacing the injured returner, Chad Beebe, the wide receiver who has been placed on injured reserve due to an ankle injury.
Sherels ranked T-34th in return average, has returned 6 punts for 33 yards, averaging 5.5 yards per return, his longest for 15 yards.
Detroit’s punt returner, cornerback Jamal Agnew, is ranked 44th in the league in return average.
Agnew has returned 9 punts for 27 yards, averaging 3.0 yards per return, his longest for 24 yards.
Both of these teams have an accurate veteran placekicker capable of making a 50+ yarder and both teams have booming punters, so neither has a definitive special teams advantage in this one.
The Minnesota Vikings have figured out that if they game plan a lot of bootleg passes for quarterback Kirk Cousins, it gives their receivers (Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen) more time to get open with routes that develop slowly, and this will be the key to their win on Sunday.
Of course, that only works if Minnesota can set up the run game first, and for that, they have the perfect weapon in Dalvin Cook, who can make opponents have to load the box against his brutal (and swift) attacks.
Then it’s up to the Vikings’ defense to keep Stafford and company off the board (or at the very least only give up field goals instead of touchdowns) which is not a big ask for the fifth-best defense in the league.
The Detroit Lions can only win this one if their defense can show up and get after both of the dangerous Minnesota C’s – Cousins and Cook – and neutralize the Vikings’ two main offensive weapons, unlike last week when they let the Packers pass for almost 300 yards and run for 150+ yards.
Stuffing Cook in the early downs and getting after Cousins on third could be the secret to the Detroit Lions’ success here, as long as they can find a way to put points on the board against the Vikings’ superior defense.
Matthew Stafford has to play a great game for the Lions to win, of course, as does running back Kerryon Johnson, because 3.3 yards per carry will not get the job done against a Vikings team starting the fourth-best rusher in the league.
Minnesota Vikings by a field goal, because Cook and Thielen will have big games around Cousins and the Vikes’ defense will only give up mostly field goals.
John Breech of CBS Sports predicts the score as Vikings 20, Lions 17.
Mike Lukas is a retired standup comedian turned freelance writer now living in Dallas, Texas, originally from Cleveland, Ohio. His love for the game of football and all things Cleveland Browns turned Mike into a pro blogger years ago. Now Mike enjoys writing about all thirty-two NFL teams, hoping to help football gamblers gain a slight edge in their pursuit of the perfect wager. Email: [email protected]More info on Mike Lukas
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