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The Bettor's Edge

These Lions won’t be tamed

By Ed Ryan
Globe Staff / September 23, 2011

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The Detroit Lions have covered the spread in seven straight games.

Yes, these are the same Detroit Lions who did not win a game in 2008 and went 4-10-2 against the spread in 2009. Now, after a savvy rebuilding effort, they have rebounded to be a 2-0 team in 2011 - overall and against the spread.

The Lions’ streak against the number (obviously) dates back to last season, when they covered in 12 of 16 games. This season, Detroit won outright as an underdog in its opener at Tampa Bay, then easily covered at home against suddenly pathetic Kansas City.

The Lions were giving 8 points to the Chiefs and won, 48-3. Detroit hadn’t been such a large favorite since 2000.

Based on this intelligence, don’t we have to take them against the Vikings?

This week’s picks (home team in caps): TENNESSEE (-6 1/2) over Denver: Denver’s wide receiver depth has been compromised, running back Knowshon Moreno is limping as usual, and the Broncos are dealing with their first road game after two uninspiring efforts at home. The Titans have allowed just under 15 points per game and are coming off a home win in which they roughed up the talented Ravens in the second half. The numbers, too, support a Denver collapse: The Broncos are 1-5 against the spread in their last six road games. Risking $165 to win $150.

BUFFALO (+8 1/2) over New England: I typically avoid the Patriots at all costs, but it’s difficult to ignore those 9 points, particularly against New England, which has surrendered an average of 479 yards per game - the second-worst total in the league. The Bills’ defense isn’t likely to set any records, but offensively they’ve been efficient. Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick has thrown just one interception and they haven’t lost any fumbles. The Patriots offense is devastating, but Buffalo should remain within striking distance. Risking $110 to win $100.

Detroit (-3 1/2) over MINNESOTA: The Lions have lost 13 straight road games to the Vikings, the last win being a 14-13 decision (when Barry Sanders rushed for 138 yards) in 1997. Even stranger: In their last four trips to Mall of America Field, the Lions have scored 10 points each time while being outscored, 105-40. These statistics should provide plenty of motivation for a team that is superior to Minnesota when it comes to personnel and coaching. Risking $110 to win $100.

Last week: 2-2, minus $20. Season: 3-4-1, minus $140.

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