The tradition of Thanksgiving Day football continues this Thursday with an NFL triple header kicking off with an NFC North showdown. The action gets underway at 12:30pm ET as the first place Minnesota Vikings make the trip to Ford Field to take on the Detroit Lions. For these two teams a win this weekend could go along way in determining which of these two teams will lock up the division.
The Vikings enter this showdown holding the second best record in the NFC at 8-2 including winning three of their first four games against teams in the NFC North. That one loss came early in the season at home to this very same Lions team 14-7. Since that loss, the Vikings have been red hot winning six straight games including back to back impressive wins over a solid Washington Redskins team and first place Los Angeles Rams team.
The Lions on the other hand have been on a roller coaster ride since there win over the Vikings, losing three straight against three teams that all have winning records. Since those three losses, the team behind strong play of Matthew Stafford have bounced back winning three straight games against teams that all have losing records.
Here are the keys to the Minnesota Vikings and Detroit Lions showdown on Thanksgiving Day 2017.
Minnesota Vikings – Don’t let Matthew Stafford Beat You
The Vikings have been good on both sides of the ball this season but will need their defense to step up on Thursday to shut down Matthew Stafford. The Lions quarterback has been really good over his last three game throwing for 909 yards to go with seven touchdowns to just one interception. For the Vikings to win this game they will need to do everything in their power to limit his big play production while allowing the Lions to run the ball. Entering this week, the Lions are averaging just 3.4 yards per carry on the ground.
Detroit Lions – Play Aggressive on Both Sides of the Field
The Thanksgiving Day showdown with the Vikings won’t be any easy task for the Lions as they are a very solid team on both sides of the field. For the Lions, they will need to aggressive if they want to pick up another key win against the Vikings this week. On the offensive side of the ball the team will need to look deep early to open up the running game. On the defensive side of the ball the team will need to get exotic with their blitzes to force Case Keenum to rush his throws while also bring up their safeties to slow down the running game. In five of their six wins the Vikings were able to move the ball effective on the ground while topping the 100 yard mark.
Minnesota Vikings @ Detroit Lions (+3.5)
Over/Under – (44.5)
As these two teams get set for their NFC North showdown on Thanksgiving Day, the Vikings have the slight advantage for the sports handicappers. Through the first 11 weeks of the season, the Vikings are 7-3 against the spread while the Lions are just 5-4 overall. Now not all the trends point to the Vikings though as they have struggled on the road this season going just 1-2 against the spread while dating back to last year have covered in just three of their last ten overall games. Meanwhile the Lions are 9-1-1 overall in their last 11 games in November.
Head To Head Trends
The head to head numbers tend to swing both directions in this NFC North series. Over the last 13 meetings the underdog has covered the spread in nine of those contests. That said, the road team has been very good over the last seven meetings covering in five of those contests. One trend to consider is the under as they have failed to cover the over/under in seven of their last eight overall meetings as well as in seven of their last 10 games at Ford Field.
NFL Football Pick – Detroit Lions