If you were to just look at the scoreboard for the Minnesota Vikings against the Detroit Lions last week, you would think that the game was quite one-sided. After all, the Vikes made for great NFL picks as 3 ½-point underdogs by winning 20-13 in a game that they never trailed and rarely led by fewer than 10 points.
However, a closer look shows that the Vikes not only scored on the opening kickoff of the game thanks to WR Percy Harvin’s 105-yard return to the house, but they also scored on a punt return by DB Marcus Sherels from 77 yards away to start off the second half.
This year, Minnesota really has been a great team when it comes to its special teams, and we don’t just mean those two kick returns. Yes, Harvin is averaging over 38 yards per kick return and Sherels is good for 18.8 yards per punt return, but we’re also talking about the kicking game as well.
P Chris Kluwe has punted the ball 19 times, and he has stuck six of them inside the 20 against just one touchback, and he is averaging 46.0 yards per punt. Rookie K Blair Walsh has shown a cannon for a leg, and he has gone 9-of-10 on field goal attempts this year. He was the man that kicked the 55-yard field goal at the end of regulation to send the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars to overtime, and he also booted the game-winner in that game.
Now, the Tennessee Titans are on tap, and we have seen their special teams already melt down this year in the form of a failed attempt at recovering an onside kick. The Titans do have a kick return and a punt return for a touchdown this year, but K Rob Bironas is only 6-of-8 on field goals, and the kick return coverage team has had some sloppy looking moments this year.
Minnesota is a 5 ½-point favorite as of Tuesday to move to 4-1 on the season.