Free NFL Pick: Minnesota at Detroit 01-02-2011

January 2, 2011

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Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions

Sunday January 2nd, 2011 1:00 PM EST

Line: Detroit -3

Overview:

It’s no secret that the Lions have played well at home this season. They might be 3-4 at home, but they have been much more competitive and have consistently left Vegas scratching their head. Their season ends here this year, but make no mistake about it, the Lions are happy with the way 2010 went. They are no longer the door mat of the NFL. While they certainly would like to be a playoff team, they have turned a corner and appear to be assembling the personnel to compete.

The Vikings are playing for Leslie Frazier. It was evident last week when they flipped the script against heavily favored Philadelphia. They have won three of their last five, but seem much more explosive with Joe Webb at quarterback. It looks at this point as though Leslie Frazier will keep his job, and Brett Favre will move into retirement for good. Six or Seven wins is not how the Vikings saw this year going, but they shouldn’t be stuck in a rebuilding rut with Frazier at the helm.

Keys to the Game:

  • Joe Webb changes everything. He was on the same field as Michael Vick last week and completely stole the spotlight. The Lions have Ndamukong Suh, but Suh will have a tough time even getting in a position to make a sack. Webb is a quarterback who is constantly rolling out of the pocket. The Lions will have more film on him than the Eagles did, but Webb will likely be effective this week as well. He provides more for the Vikings than a stationary, banged up Brett Favre does. Webb might not be the starting quarterback in Minnesota next year, but if he can put together an encore performance of last week, his hat will be in the ring.
  • If Calvin Johnson does not play, the Lions are going to struggle offensively. He commands so much attention from the defense that failing to suit up will allow Minnesota to be more aggressive and load up the box. The don’t have a legitimate threat at receiver outside of Johnson and their run game is less than desirable. If Megatron sits this one out, there is a 100% chance the Lions will struggle moving the ball down the field.

Key Matchup:

Percy Harvin Vs. Detroit’s Secondary

  • It was unclear how the passing game would be affected with Joe Webb at quarterback. Percy Harvin enjoyed a 100 yard day on seven receptions. Harvin is a game breaker and with the extra time Webb gives Harvin to get open, the Vikings could become dangerous once again through the air. One major setback this year was the lack of a dominant passing game, an asset that made them so successful just a season ago. By regaining that, teams aren’t able to shut down the offense by containing Adrian Peterson. The Lions need to contain Joe Webb on the outside so that Percy Harvin doesn’t have six seconds to get open.

Wrap Up:

This is the last Lions prediction I am making this season. Uncharacteristically, I’m going against Detroit. They have been one of my favorite teams to take at home this season, given the fact they are almost always heavy underdogs, but with them being favored and Calvin Johnson’s status up in the air, I just can’t go with the Lions this week.

Free NFL Pick: Minnesota +3


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