Minnesota Vikings (8-6) at Houston Texans (12-2)
The Vikings kept their playoff hopes alive last week, as they are one of many 8-6 teams in the NFC. They are long shot hopes, however. Not only do they not control their own destiny, their final 2 games are against Houston and Green Bay, two of the better teams in the NFL. Making matters worse, the Vikings are in a bad spot trends wise here.
Teams are 45-19 ATS since 2008 as non-divisional home favorites before being divisional road favorites since 2008. The Texans have no distractions on the horizon and teams generally cover in this situation. Going off that, non-conference home favorites are 37-18 ATS before being divisional road favorites since 2002. The Vikings, meanwhile, have a distraction next week, as they have that aforementioned Green Bay game. Non-divisional road dogs are 47-72 ATS since 2002 before being divisional road dogs.
The Vikings also struggle mightily on the road, winning just 2 of 7 games on the road. Those games were in Detroit and St. Louis respectively, so it’s not like they were beating up on some of the elite teams in the NFL, like the Texans are. Those also happen to be the only two road games they’ve covered in this season. For comparison, they are 6-1 (5-1-1 ATS) at home.
I also feel like they’re a little overrated. Everyone wants to talk about Adrian Peterson, but their passing offense is miserable. This is still a passing league, you have to be able to pass, especially against a team like Houston. As evidence of this, they are 2-4 this year when Ponder completes 60% or fewer of his passes and 4-2 when Adrian Peterson rushes for 5.0 yards per carry or less. However, because of Peterson, we’re able to actually get line value here with Houston and not have Houston be a heavy publicly backed favorite.
Houston ranks 6th in net points per drive at 0.56, while Minnesota ranks 19th at -0.07. If you take the difference, multiply by 11 (the average amount of drives per game), and add 2.5 points for home field, you get that Houston should be favored by 9, not huge line value, but significant enough when combined with all the aforementioned trends, especially with the public not on Houston heavily. DVOA supports this -9 calculated line, as Houston ranks 8th and 10th in regular and weighted DVOA respectively, while Minnesota ranks 20th and 23rd respectively.
The AFC, the weaker conference, is 6-15 ATS as favorites against the NFC this year, which is part of why this isn’t a significant play. The other reason is just my hatred of laying more than a touchdown. The Texans should be the right side, however, and get another convincing win here. The Texans have 7 wins by 8 or more, while the Vikings have 5 such losses.
Public lean: Houston (50% range)
Sharps lean: MIN 13 HOU 6
Final thoughts: No change.
Houston Texans 24 Minnesota Vikings 13
Pick against spread: Houston -7.5 (-110) 2 units