Vikings at Lions: Preview, prediction, odds and pick

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The Lions have the second-best odds of winning the division at 7/2. Washington turned and asked a team staffer standing nearby.

"Yeah", Washington said. "Let's go with that".

The Vikings won't play at home again until December 17, and all three games between now and then are against teams with winning records (Detroit, Atlanta and Carolina).

The Lions will win if ...

The way the NFC North is presently constituted, the division's top heavyweights are battling it out today at Ford Field.

The Vikings can take a stranglehold on the division if they keep the streak going. That improved from 4/13 last week, thanks to Minnesota's 24-7 domination of the first-place Los Angeles Rams.

If you combined the best of the rosters of the other three AFC East teams, that conglomerate probably couldn't beat New England (8-2). The Carolina Panthers and Atlanta Falcons are in pole position for wildcard spots, and the Seattle Seahawks are pushing for a playoff berth, too.

"Everything's on the line every week", linebacker Jarrad Davis said. "And number two, it is Thanksgiving, and to me, it's different than a normal Thursday night game", Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said.

If the Vikings can limit Stafford's time on the field, it could swing the momentum toward the Vikings on Thanksgiving Day. A Detroit win would not only pull it within a game of the lead but also clinch the tiebreaker with the Vikings.

The changes made to the offense in Minnesota for this season have helped propel the Vikings toward the top of the National Football League, from a reimagined scheme to the running back replacements to a revamped line.

On the day, Detroit got outgained by Chicago 398-352, but the Lions defense scored a touchdown-its fifth of this season-and stiffened as the game progressed, holding the Bears to seven points over the final 37 minutes. The last time the Vikings won four straight games on the road was from October 25-Nov. A week earlier, they gave up an even more disturbing 201 yards on the ground to the winless Cleveland Browns.

Reiff's presence as the bulwark protector of Case Keenum's blind side has set the tone for this vast improvement by the group, with rookie center Pat Elflein also manning a key role and the 13-year veteran Berger playing as well as ever.

On the other side, although the Lions are strong in the secondary and disciplined as a unit, their biggest weakness is on the ground and I fully expect both Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon to have a solid outing. That offense will be put to the test, however, against a Minnesota defense that has allowed over 20 points just once this season. "Last (time) 14-7. We turned the ball over three times last game and we got in the red zone and haven't converted". This game could easily turn into a high-scoring affair or lopsided blowout depending and is sure to be must-see. "We've got a short week and a lot to prepare for".

It has been rare through the years that a Lions Thanksgiving game impacts the playoff race. They rank 30th in the National Football League in yards per carry (3.4) and 28th in yards per game (80.8), once again leaving Matthew Stafford's right arm as the only weapon in the arsenal.

"The first thing you have to do is punch your ticket to the dance and get into the tournament", Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith says.