NFL Week 3 Parlay (+271): Vikings Host Overhyped Lions on Sunday

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Dalvin Cook #4 of the Minnesota Vikings runs the ball during the first quarter in the game against the Green Bay Packers. Stephen Maturen/Getty Images/AFP

The top sportsbooks have released their odds for this week’s NFL action and one game, in particular, interests me as worth investing in:

  • Detroit vs. Minnesota

For reasons that I will explain, you should play the spread and the total for this game.

Feel free to parlay both bets at your preferred online sports betting site in order to maximize your profit.

Detroit Lions vs. Minnesota Vikings

Sunday, September 25, 2022 – 01:00 PM EDT at U.S. Bank Stadium

The Odds

Currently, Minnesota is favored by as few as 5.5 points for its upcoming home game against the Lions.

This spread reflects the positive perception of Detroit because, depending on the sportsbook, Minnesota opened as 7.5- or eight-point favorites.

The question is this: do the Lions deserve this positive perception, such that we should consider them to be a strong underdog this week?

Burden on Detroit's Offense

My main issue with Detroit is that their defense doesn't seem to have improved to a meaningful extent after, last year, ranking 31st in allowing 27.5 points per game.

This year, the Lions also rank 31st in scoring defense. But now they are allowing 32.5 points per game.

Given Detroit's endeavor to cover the spread, the offense has a tremendous burden to carry because it's easier to fail to cover even a larger spread when the defense allows so many points.

My point is that it is trivially true that Detroit's offense has improved this year, but, in order to be considered a viable underdog for this game, the Lions' offense needs to be very substantially better than it was last year.

Detroit's Offense So Far

It seems to me that Detroit hasn't made substantial enough improvements to its offense during the offseason to justify the expectation that its current offensive explosion is sustainable to a meaningful degree.

After all, in Week 1, the Lions were always chasing Philadelphia, at one point losing to the Eagles 31-14.

In Week 2, Detroit's offense flourished against a Commander defense whose statistics were flattered by a slow Jacksonville start and by misplaced Jacksonville aggressiveness in the red zone in Week 1.

The Jaguars' pass offense did come to move the ball downfield with ease on the Commanders' defense, and this is the sort of success that the Lions replicated in Week 2.

DJ Chark

Detroit hasn't been able to rely on new acquisition DJ Chark as much as they surely hoped to do because he was arguably the team's top acquired skill player. His last somewhat complete season was in 2020.

In that year, his contested catch rate was vastly higher than it currently is, and he also did a much stronger job of separating himself from his assigned defender.

Minnesota's Pass Defense vs. Lion Pass Attack

Detroit's pass attack has been dependent on two things in particular, which make it vulnerable to what the Viking pass defense likes to do.

Downfield Passing

One thing is their relatively strong dependence on downfield passing. After averaging 2.9 deep ball attempts per game last year, Jared Goff is throwing 4.5 of them per game this year. Likewise, Goff is averaging 1.9 more air yards per attempt this year than he did last year.

Moreover, he has been relatively dependent on Amon-Ra St. Brown, who alone accounts for over a third of his team's targets.

Minnesota's pass defense is well-equipped to contain a pass attack inclined to be aggressive because the Vikings, schematically, are constructed to force their opponent to focus on attempting shorter passes. They employ a lot of coverages that involve two deep safeties, especially cover -6.

With so many defensive backs on the field, they're positioned to keep the opposing offense in front of them.

Defensive Backs

Moreover, their combination of defensive backs is arranged to limit one wide receiver in particular.

Hence, Eagle star receiver AJ Brown accrued five fewer receptions and 86 fewer yards in his game against Minnesota than against Detroit.

Detroit's Defense

By the numbers, despite the immediate impact that Aidan Hutchinson seems to be happening, there is little to like from the Lion defense.

Currently, the Lions' run defense ranks 26th, while their pass defense ranks 27th.

While Minnesota's quarterback obviously isn't mobile like Philadelphia's, Miles Sanders amassed 96 rushing yards on only 13 carries against the Lions. For Washington, Carson Wentz threw for 337 yards.

Injuries Will Take a Toll on the Team's Performance

Hutchinson's impact is outweighed especially by the plethora of injuries to the Lions' defense. Hutchinson himself was a non-participant in Wednesday's practice due to a leg injury.

More definitively, several important players whom the team would like to count on, such as Jeff Okudah, Josh Paschal, and Romeo Okwara, are out indefinitely.

If Amani Oruwariye still can't play, then the Lions will miss their two starting cornerbacks.

Vikings' Dual Threat

Minnesota is built to thrive on both fronts.

The Vikings boast three-time Pro Bowler Dalvin Cook at running back, and then Adam Thielen and a Justin Jefferson who solidified himself as one of the league's best wide receivers after exceeding 1,600 receiving yards last year.

Both Detroit's run defense and their pass defense, already struggling to limit opposing scoring, will encounter their strongest tests on Sunday.

Lions vs. Vikings: Final Verdict

After being embarrassed on national television and losing their last game despite winning the yardage and time of possession battles, Detroit will have Minnesota's full attention.

The Vikings' offense will reach the mid to upper 30s, leaving the Lions' improved offense having little to accomplish to send the scoring over the posted total.

For the above reasons, parlay the Vikings ATS with the "over."

And be sure to use our trusty parlay calculator for your parlay betting needs.

  • Vikings -6 (-108)
  • Over 52.5 (-108)

NFL Pick: Two-Legged Parlay (+271) at Heritage Sports (visit our Heritage Sports Review)

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*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.