In Week 14, the Detroit Lions will host the division-leading Minnesota Vikings who are 10-2 on the season and will have a chance to secure themselves a spot in the Playoffs if they leave Detroit with a win.
But securing that win won’t be as easy as the season records indicate, as the good folks over at DraftKings Sportsbook have set the opening betting line at Detroit +1, predicting a close game.
The Lions are just 5-7 on the season but they are one of the hottest teams in the NFL right now. Over the last five games, they are 4-1, with their only loss coming against the Buffalo Bills (a last-second 3-point loss), and are fresh off a 40-14 dismantling of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Meanwhile, the Vikings have continued to stack wins, but the manner in which they have been securing victories can look a bit shaky at times. Last Sunday, after jumping out to a 20-6 lead at the half over the New York Jets, they slowly let the Jets back in the game and had to hold off a late push, eventually winning 27-22.
“It feels like any other play,” Vikings Camryn Bynum—who made an interception in the red zone to seal the win—told ESPN. “I know pressure’s on us. We’re in the red zone, fourth down, one play to lose the game or win the game, but to us, that’s normal football.”
Winning tight games has been commonplace for the Vikings this season. Nine of their 10 wins have all come by one score, with the only exception being in Week 1 against the Packers where they beat them by 16. Their two losses have been blowouts, losing to the Cowboys by 37 and the Eagles by 17.
When the Lions and Vikings met in Week 3, despite losing Tracy Walker, D’Andre Swift, Amon-Ra. St. Brown, and DJ Chark to injuries, Detroit held a 10-point lead entering the fourth quarter, only to make some questionable coaching decisions down the stretch, and the Vikings walked away with a four-point win.
The Vikings have been very consistent this season, finding ways to win late in games at an impressive clip, and those continual late wins have given them confidence they can come away with a victory if the game is close. But the fact that they continue to get themselves into trouble late makes you wonder how many times they can gamble with control before it comes back to bite them.
Will this be the week?