(WCCO)- The Minnesota Vikings have to be frustrated. After Monday night’s 37-30 loss to the Seahawks, the team sits at 8-4 on the year, with three of those four losses coming by one score or less.
Each time that they have had a chance to make a statement this year, they have come up agonizingly short. Against the Packers in Week 2, they fell behind 21-0 and lost 21-16. Against the Chiefs, they got the ball back with the game tied 23-23 and four minutes to go and promptly went three-and-out before Matt Moore led the Chiefs to the game-winning field goal. And against the Seahawks, a late drive was stopped at their own 42 with an incomplete pass on 4th and 3.
All of that leaves the Vikings sitting in the precarious position of the final Wild Card spot in the NFC, with the Rams and Bears breathing down their necks. The good news for Minnesota fans is that Mike Zimmer has been dominant when coming off of a loss during his time in the Twin Cities.
However, that comes with a caveat. This week’s game features a matchup with the division rival Detroit Lions. Divisional games have been something of a bugaboo for Zimmer through the years. Hartstein explains that Zimmer is just 16-17 against teams within the division in his time in Minnesota, making the Lions matchup less comfortable than what you would expect from a game against a 3-8-1 team. Further complicating matters is the fact that the Lions will be playing on more rest than the Vikings Sunday, since Detroit hasn’t played since Thanksgiving.
“Given the rest edge with the Vikings playing Monday night while the Lions have been off since Thanksgiving, I just think the only way to look at this game is to take the points,” said Hartstein.
Now, there are factors playing to the Vikings advantage. The Lions will, for the second straight week, start undrafted rookie David Blough at quarterback. Though Blough impressed against the Bears on Thanksgiving, he struggled in the second half of the game once Chicago got more comfortable with what he had to offer. Furthermore, the strength of the Lions in recent weeks has been the play of running back Bo Scarbrough, who comes in averaging 4.5 yards per carry. That butts heads directly with the Vikings strength on defense, as Minnesota rates as the ninth-most efficient run defense in the league according to Football Outsiders.
The Vikings are currently 13-point favorites entering Sunday’s action and, Hartstein reminds you, this is the third time they have been favored by double-digits this season without covering either of the previous instances against the Broncos and Redskins. As the Vikings try to stay above the playoff cut line, rest, or lack thereof, could come into play this week. The Vikings and Lions meet for the second time this season Sunday with kickoff set for 12:00 p.m. Central Time.