NFC North Matchup
Though his team has been throughly overmatched this season, wide receiver Roy Williams still thinks the Detroit Lions have a shot at reaching the playoffs.
Before considering that lofty goal, they probably should focus on ending one of the NFL's longest active road losing streaks against an opponent.
On Sunday, the woeful Lions will try to snap a 10-game slide at the Metrodome as they meet the Minnesota Vikings, who will try to build off their biggest win of 2008.
Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Vikings -13 point spread favorites (View NFL Football odds) for Sunday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 54% of bets for this game have been placed on Lions +13 (View NFL Football bet percentages).
Poor play and front-office turmoil this season have established the Lions as perhaps one of the worst teams in recent memory.
Since 2001, Detroit was an NFL-worst 31-84 under general manager Matt Millen before finally firing him on Sept. 24. That change, though, failed to pay immediate dividends on the field. After a 34-7 loss to Chicago last week, the Lions (0-4) remain the only team without a point in the first quarter or a defensive interception at any point of a game.
One day after the latest defeat, head coach Rod Marinelli brushed aside a reporter's suggestions of quitting.
"Just you saying that to me, I would take that as a personal insult,'' said Marinelli, now 10-26.
Williams' proclamation also seems unrealistic considering the Lions have fallen behind by a combined score of 94-3 to start their games this year, and they've lost by a combined 81 points, breaking their record for worst point differential through four games
Despite those numbers, he's surprisingly optimistic.
"We still have a realistic chance to make the playoffs, believe it or not,'' Williams said. "We can still be 12-4, 10-6 or 11-5. It happened before. It happened with the '92 Chargers. It doesn't happen often, but it does happen.''
Sixteen years ago, San Diego lost its first four games before winning 11 of its final 12 to reach the postseason. The Chargers eventually were ousted by Miami in an AFC divisional playoff game.
Meanwhile, the Lions this year have the fifth-worst offense in the NFL, averaging 16.5 points and 263.0 yards per game. They also have the second-worst rushing offense as rookie Kevin Smith and former Bengal Rudi Johnson have combined for 72.3 yards.
Detroit's 10-game road skid against the Vikings is the fifth-longest active streak of its kind. In fact, the Lions own the two longest road losing streaks against one opponent, having dropped 18 in a row in Washington dating back to 1939, and 16 straight in Green Bay since 1992.
The Vikings (2-3) return to Minnesota after overcoming two second-half punt returns for touchdowns by New Orleans' Reggie Bush in a 30-27 victory over the Saints on Monday night.
"It's good to beat a good team on the road to get the win and bounce back like that. There's plenty of adversity. They made some fantastic plays, obviously, but to be able to have that resolve and win it in the end? That's huge. Hopefully we'll continue to do that," center Matt Birk said.
The win allowed the Vikings to move into a second-place tie with Green Bay in the NFC North. Following this contest, Minnesota will face the division-leading Bears on Oct. 19 before heading into its bye week.
Gus Frerotte, starting his third game last week after taking over at quarterback for Tarvaris Jackson, was 19-of-36 for 222 yards with one touchdown, and Antoine Winfield returned a blocked field goal attempt 59 yards for a score.
Reigning offensive rookie of the year Adrian Peterson, though, had his worst game as a starter, rushing for only 32 yards on 21 carries. Still, he's third in the league with 452 rushing yards this season, and had 116 yards with two touchdowns Dec. 2 in the Vikings' 42-10 home victory over the Lions.
Minnesota's defense has been one of the highlights of its decade-long domination of Detroit at the Metrodome. The Vikings have allowed 19 points or fewer while averaging four sacks the last five times the teams have met there.
Top Betting Trends:
All games in this series since 1992
MINNESOTA is 16-15 against the spread versus DETROIT since 1992
MINNESOTA is 23-9 straight up against DETROIT since 1992
18 of 32 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL since 1992
Games over the last 3 seasons
MINNESOTA is 3-0 against the spread versus DETROIT over the last 3 seasons
MINNESOTA is 3-1 straight up against DETROIT over the last 3 seasons
3 of 4 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons
All games played at MINNESOTA since 1992
MINNESOTA is 9-7 against the spread versus DETROIT since 1992
MINNESOTA is 14-2 straight up against DETROIT since 1992
9 of 16 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL since 199
Games played at MINNESOTA over the last 3 seasons.
MINNESOTA is 2-0 against the spread versus DETROIT over the last 3 seasons
MINNESOTA is 2-0 straight up against DETROIT over the last 3 seasons
2 of 2 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons
Key Player Injuries
[WR] Aveion Cason IR - Ankle - 08/31/08
(!) [QB] Jon Kitna upgraded to probable - Knee - 10/01/08
[OG] Stephen Peterman injured last game, doubtful - Hand - 09/22/08
[DT] Shaun Cody is "?" - Knee - 10/01/08
[CB] Stanley Wilson IR - Achilles - 09/04/08
[TE] Dan Campbell IR - Hamstring - 09/09/08
[FB] Jon Bradley IR - Shoulder - 08/20/08
[CB] Travis Fisher is "?" - Groin - 10/01/08
[DE] Jayme Mitchell IR - Knee - 08/09/08
[DE] Ray Edwards missed last game %27?%27 - Shoulder - 09/28/08
[DE] Kenechi Udeze expected to miss entire season - Illness - 08/16/08
[LB] E.J. Henderson is downgraded to doubtful - Foot - 09/29/08
[OT] Bryant McKinnie is probable - Suspension Served - 09/29/08
[S] Madieu Williams missed last game %27?%27 - Neck - 09/28/08
[FB] Thomas Tapeh expected to miss - Undisclosed - 09/28/08
[LB] Heath Farwell IR - Knee - 08/11/08
[DT] Kenderick Allen IR - Wrist - 08/19/08
[LB] Vinny Ciurciu missed last game %27?%27 - Knee - 09/28/08
(!) [QB] Gus Frerotte is upgraded to probable - Hand - 09/29/08
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