NFL Picks: Vikings vs. Lions in Week 1

Jeff Grant

Tuesday, July 16, 2013 3:34 PM GMT

The Detroit Lions and Minnesota Vikings each possess one of the more exciting offensive players in the league, as the two division rivals prepare to open up the 2013 campaign against each other.

Let’s take a closer look at the NFL betting odds for this Week 1 matchup in the NFC North at Ford Field, with the opening kickoff scheduled for 1:00 p.m. ET on FOX.

Surprised many  

Minnesota surprised many fans across the nation when advancing to the playoffs a season ago, as they suffered a 24-10 setback to the Green Bay Packers as 10.5-point road underdogs in the NFC Wild Card round. 

The Vikings finished the regular season with a 10-6 straight up (SU) and 8-7-1 against-the-spread (ATS) record, with the UNDER going 9-7. 

Disappointment 

The Detroit Lions were expected to be a major player in the NFC to reach last year’s Super Bowl, but it ended up finishing with a disappointing 4-12 SU and 6-10 ATS record, while the OVER went 10-5-1 in those 16 opportunities.

The Lions dropped all six of their games versus divisional foes, which played a major part in getting outscored by 65 points total in the regular season.

Encore performance? 

NFL handicappers can’t expect running back Adrian Peterson to run for 2,097 yards again, which is why the UNDER might be an attractive option when looking over the Vikings regular season win total in the futures market. 

Peterson will continue to face defenses that stack the box with eight to nine players until quarterback Christian Ponder proves he can distribute the football downfield.

Protecting Stafford

There’s no question that the league has become more pass-oriented over the years, which is certainly demonstrated with Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford attempting 727 passes a season ago. 

Detroit’s main focus during the offseason and training camp is putting together a capable offensive line—a group that lost three starters to either free agency or retirement. 

Stafford loves to go vertical in the passing game, especially with wide receiver Calvin Johnson on the outside, but he can only be successful if he’s given the proper time to throw the football.

[gameodds]16/226877/?r3=43-999997-192/dec&r-1=43-999997-192/us[/gameodds]

Prediction

I’m going to recommend that readers play the total as one of their early NFL picks, as I always lean in this direction when handicapping a season-opening contest that features division rivals. 

NFL Pick:  Under 47