Detroit Lions vs. Minnesota Vikings (10/15/19): NFL Betting Picks, Lines

Last Week: 5-13
All-Time Results: 41-42, +4.0 Units

Minnesota Vikings PK @ Detroit Lions – 1 Unit

2-Team 6-Point Teaser (-120): Vikings +6 with Green Bay Packers PK vs. Oakland Raiders – 1 Unit

Green Bay Packers to Win NFC North -118 -.5 Units

Getting good at sports betting doesn’t simply mean getting better at honing your opinions.  Or even being right.   One also has to find the wager that most accurately represents that which he thinks will happen.

This morning I feel pretty good about one aspect of this process.  A lot of my conclusions about the Packers-Lions MNF game last night came to fruition – even as I got a big O-fer on the scoreboard.

green bay packersAaron Rodgers posted a 42 QBR while putting up one of the most impressive QB displays of the season.  Didn’t I say Aaron Rodgers played better than his stats?  That he was still an elite QB?  Remember: QBR doesn’t attempt to access how difficult a throw is or how talented a QB’s receivers are at getting open.

Green Bay won despite committing three unforced turnovers – a difficult feat, but one you would expect from a home team significantly superior to their opponent.  Didn’t I say they were the much better team?

The game ended with the Packers at the 1-yard line in Victory Formation despite still being behind in the game.  Had Jamall Williams selfishly fallen forward into the endzone – or had one of the Lions ingenuously dragged him there – the Packers chances to cover the game would have jumped to 90%.  And their winning chances would have fallen to about 90%.  As it happened, setting up a 16-yard field goal as time expired, assured both a Packers victory and a Lions ATS cash.

Since 2012 teams with a -3 turnover-differential win about 10% of the time.  These Packers bucked that trend with a 6.5 min field-goal drive to ice the game.  The beauty of the drive is that it could have been 9 min or 3 min, 40 yards or 80 yards, depending on what the team needed.  When Aaron Rodgers scrambled for the first time all game to get a 1st down at the 50 with 4:00 min left, I had no doubt the Packers would win the game.  They were in complete control.

Getting the touchdown and the cover was obviously a different story.  Didn’t I say Victory Formation ensures victory while killing your stats? Consider the Packers ATS record its latest victim!

I think the spread on this game was correct not because my power rankings were off but because of the unique game script implicit in this matchup differed from each team’s overall ability.  The Lions were always going to have a great chance at keeping it close on the scoreboard.

When the Packers have been up significantly, we’ve seen them play low leverage football several times this season.  They have relied on ball control to salt away games, even as their opponents chip away at their lead.  Especially with their outside weapons limited, the Packers were always likely to eschew margin and play conservatively.

Additionally, the Packers have morphed into a prevent defense with large leads, forcing teams to burn clock against them, even if they are often able to score.  Matt Stafford and the Lions have been kings of the backdoor cover over the years.  Whether the Lions were ahead, tied or down 10 to start the 4th quarter, there was a high likelihood that Detroit would cover 4.

Thanks largely to turnovers, the Lions had a lead late in this game, but the Packers – when needed – can still move the ball and score because they have an All-Time QB and a decent offensive line.  The fact that they were behind, led them to almost double their second-half scoring average.

minnesota vikingsI feel good about Power Rankings of these teams after this game.  Because my power rankings expressly ignore aspects like match-ups and game scripts.  Although it is expressed in points akin to a spread,  its actual function is to access teams’ relative chances to win against their competition.  Example: If there was a blizzard of epic proportion the Patriots would be laying less than 14 at home against the Dolphins.  Not because the Patriots aren’t 20+ points better than Miami at home – but because the expected scoring in the game would be so depressed.  Yesterday, the Packers may have had a 80% to win and only a 50% chance to cover.  Green Bay Moneyline was the play.

Since the game played out the way I thought, yet the Lions technically beat the market’s expectations, I am excited to exploit the mispricing present in yesterday’s game that remains in the market for this Sunday.  I still think the Packers are underrated – have them tied with the 49ers for the best team in the NFC.  I still think the Lions are slightly overrated – currently, have them worse than an average team.

Given those two assumptions, I like the Vikings to send the 5-1 ATS Lions back to earth. And I like the Packers to get the win outright at home Sunday against the Raiders.

The Packers win the division because they have the best quarterback by a country mile.

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Born in Chicago, born for Las Vegas, Mackenzie is a graduate of Yale University with a BA in English & Creative Writting. Mackenzie runs AlternativeStats.blog, which seeks to by-pass the minutiae of commonly cited sports statistics and expose the heart of what drives athletic success. After several successful years investing in Las Vegas real estate, Mackenzie is excited to transition in 2019 into betting on sports full time, as well as documenting his thought process as he further learns the craft.

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