The Minnesota Vikings are a fun story. They are 10-2, finding ways to pull out close wins just about every week. They could end up with the best record in football this season if the NFC East frontrunners start losing some games.
But oddsmakers and bettors aren't interested in fun stories. And in that world, the Vikings are overrated.
Sportsbooks have a lot of money on the line when they set NFL point spreads, so there are honest assessments. And at BetMGM, the 10-2 Vikings are 1-point underdogs to the Detroit Lions this week. The Lions are 5-7, and were once 1-6 this season.
Disrespect for the Vikings? Maybe. But that spread is telling.
Vikings are a surprising underdog
There seems to be a team or two every season whose record is well ahead of its analytical profile. Last season it was the Tennessee Titans. This season the Vikings are in that role.
The Vikings somehow have a point differential of only +10 despite a 10-2 record. They've been blown out in both losses, to the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys. Those losses might indicate that the Vikings aren't going to have a long run in the NFC playoffs. However, the Vikings did beat the Buffalo Bills, though they caught plenty of breaks to do so.
Most other analytical measures don't like the Vikings. Football Outsiders' DVOA is particularly unforgiving to the Vikings. Before Week 13, FO said the Vikings were the first 9-2 team with a negative DVOA. They'll be the first 10-2 with a negative DVOA too, when those numbers come out after the Vikings' close 27-22 win over the Jets. Minnesota ranked 22nd in the NFL in DVOA before Week 13.
Call this week's point spread disrespect if you want, but unfeeling computers are coming to the conclusion that the Vikings are average despite their record. The odds just follow that.
Will Vikings win in Detroit?
The beauty of betting is if you believe the Vikings being underdogs at Detroit this week is wrong, you can act upon that.
The Lions are playing well. They've won four of five and the only loss came in the final seconds to the Buffalo Bills, who are favored to win the Super Bowl. They blew out the Jacksonville Jaguars 40-14 on Sunday and while you can scoff about it being against the lowly Jaguars, the Vikings haven't had a win of more than eight points since Week 1.
We'll see how much the public believes in the Vikings. It's possible that casual bettors see a 10-2 team as an underdog against a perennially bad Lions team with a losing record and can't help but take the Vikings.
Whatever the result Sunday, we have a good idea what oddsmakers think about the Vikings' 10-2 record.