Minnesota @ Detroit
Recommended Wager: DET +7.0
Sizing: 1 unit
Injury news: Full injuries are listed here. For the Vikings, RB Dalvin Cook had to head home after tragically learning of his father’s death. Due to COVID-19 protocols, he will not be able to play. Alexander Mattison should be back to take his spot after missing week 16 with a concussion. Cook is a phenomenal player and we’re all thinking about his family during these tough times, but the running back position simply isn’t important enough for us to make any adjustments. LT Riley Reiff also got placed on the COVID-19 list on Wednesday, and it’s unclear if he’s going to be able to play as we do not know if he tested positive or if he’s a close contact. Rashod Hill will start if Reiff can’t play, and I’d consider that a pretty big downgrade for the Vikings. On defense, DE Jalyn Holmes (groin), DE Ifeadi Odenigbo (chest), LB Eric Kendricks (calf), CB Cameron Dantzler (hamstring), and CB Chris Jones (groin) will all miss. They will get back LBs Todd Davis (ribs) and Troy Dye (concussion), who both missed last week. That’s a lot of names, but only Kendricks and Dantzler are above replacement level.
For Detroit, the big news has been about QB Matt Stafford (rib/right thumb/ankle). He got in two limited practices this week and is officially questionable, but he’s expected to play. The dude is just tough as nails. They’ll naturally still be without WR Kenny Golladay (hip), who was injured week 8, but never got placed on IR. C Frank Ragnow (throat) will have a chance to return after missing the last two weeks, he is questionable and practiced all week on a limited basis. Ragnow’s return would be a nice break for the Lions since his backup, Joe Dahl (back) was injured last week and will miss. RT Tyrell Crosby (ankle) missed the last four weeks and will continue to be out, but this isn’t a huge loss for the Lions. The defensive side of the ball doesn’t have much, LB Jamie Collins (neck) will have a chance to return. He was questionable last week, and is again questionable this week. The lack of news isn’t because they are healthy, it’s just because they have a slew of players on IR, including DT Da’Shawn Hand (groin), DT Danny Shelton (knee), DE Trey Flowers (wrist), CB Desmond Trufant (hamstring), and CB Jeff Okudah (shoulder).
Spread watching: Unfortunately, the spread moved to 6.5. If you didn’t bet with us when we recommended the bets, you’re too late.
Matchup breakdown: The Vikings offense (9th in DVOA, 13th in EPA/play) should have no issue putting up points against the Lions “defense” (dead last in DVOA and EPA/play). Kirk Cousins is having a fine season, sitting at 9th in PFF passing grades (82.3). Per NextGenStats, he’s completing 4.7% of his passes above expectation (CPOE), which is highest in the league. He’ll predominantly look to Adam Thielen and rookie Justin Jefferson, who have been the best 1-2 punch at WR this season. Though it’s true Dalvin Cook is a big part of the offense, the Vikings rely on him far too much. Minnesota sits at 27th in the league in early-down pass frequency despite being much more efficient throwing the ball then running it (0.249 dropback/EPA vs -0.066 running). Alexander Mattison will do a fine job as Cook’s backup, and maybe it’ll even trick the Vikings into being smarter play-callers (don’t worry, it won’t). As for the Lions defense, I have nothing nice to say. They are incredibly banged up (see above) and are the worst defense in football by both advanced metrics. They’ve given up 30 or more points in their last 5 games. They are lousy.
The Lions offense (18th in DVOA and 22nd in EPA/play) is a fair matchup against the Vikings defense (18th in DVOA and 27th in EPA/play). It might be easier to list what part of the body isn’t injured on Matt Stafford, but in the ultimate football guy move he’s going to play in a meaningless game. Hats off, sir. He’ll look to TJ Hockenson, Marvin Jones Jr, and slot man Danny Amendola as his primary weapons. None of the receivers should have any issues winning against the Vikings corners, particularly with Dantzler sidelined. The starting corners for the Vikings will be Jeff Gladney and Harrison Hand. Gladney has a PFF grade of 49.8 and Hand is a 5th round rookie with 106 snaps under his belt. The Vikings also don’t have much to offer along the line, and would give the Lions offensive line the advantage in the trenches.
Dallas @ NY Giants
Recommended Wager: NYG +3.0
Sizing: 1 unit
Injury news: The Cowboys will be without defensive starters LB Leighton Vander Esch (ankle) and CB Rashard Robinson (knee). Most remember Vander Esch’s incredible 2018 rookie season, but he’s struggled with injuries and his on the field performance have reflected that. Rashard Robinson is pretty bad as well. We don’t need to make any defensive adjustments for the Cowboys. For the Giants, WR Golden Tate (calf) will miss his second straight game. It’s a slight downgrade to the Giants skill position players.
Spread watching: Much like the game above, you messed up if you didn’t get your bets in early. The spread is now 1.5.
Matchup breakdown: The Cowboys offense (23rd in DVOA, 26th in EPA/play) is about even vs the Giants defense (23rd in DVOA, 18th in EPA/play). Andy Dalton has been playing about what you’d expect — he’s 19th in PFF passing grades (73.8), completing 65.4% of his passes (1% over expectation) while gaining 6.7 yards per attempt. He’s a worthy starter in the league, but nothing special. Due to injury, the offensive line is a train wreck, but he has solid weaponry to work with (Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, CeeDee Lamb, Zeke Elliot). The Giants defensive line will have an advantage in the trenches. It’s also expected that CB James Bradberry should shadow Cooper, which should be a fun one to watch. However, the Giants do not have anybody else that can match up against the other Cowboys weapons.
The Giants on offense (26rd in DVOA and 30th in DVOA) is also an equal but shit matchup against the Cowboys defense (21st in DVOA and EPA/play). Daniel Jones is sitting at 20th in PFF grades (72.7) with a completion percentage of 62.2 (0.9% below expectation) and gaining 6.4 yards per attempt. Sterling Shepard, Darius Slayton, and Evan Engram are decent enough weapons, but the offensive line is poor. The Cowboys defensive line matches up very well against the Giants offensive line, particularly with Demarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory. Their secondary is truly poor, however, and I’d expect the Giants receivers to be able to win their matchups.
Either way, you have to like how the line moved toward the model in this one.