Minnesota Vikings (7-6) at St. Louis Rams (6-6-1)
The Vikings won last week as home dogs against the Bears, but I’m still not sure about them. Christian Ponder once again had a terrible game, completing 11 of 17 for 91 yards and an interception. In his last 7 games, he’s 107 of 191 (56.0%) for 970 yards (5.1 YPA), 6 touchdowns, and 8 interceptions. Adrian Peterson is awesome, but you can’t win in the NFL without at least decent quarterback play.
Illustrating 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. Against Green Bay, Peterson went off for 210 yards and they still lost 23-14. Last week, they beat the Bears by 7, but not because of their offense. Their defense returned one Jay Cutler interception for a touchdown and another one to the goal line, setting the Vikings up with an easy touchdown. Their offense only really led one good drive all game and Peterson did almost all of the work. Unless Ponder can start playing at least serviceably, they’re going to struggle to consistently lead good drives.
That win last week pushed the Vikings at 6-1 SU at home, as opposed to 1-5 SU on the road, and that one home loss was against Tampa Bay on a Thursday Night, when weird things happen. At home, they are 5-2 ATS and they are 1-5 ATS on the road. Maybe it shouldn’t be so surprising that they upset the Bears last week, especially in kind of a fluky way. They’re a good home team. Winning on the road is another issue. That same Bears team blew them out on the road 2 weeks prior.
They’re also in a bad spot as non-divisional road dogs off a win as divisional home dogs. Teams are 33-52 ATS in this spot since 1989. After such a huge divisional win last week, they could easily be flat for St. Louis. Going off that, the Vikings are in the middle of a very tough stretch right now. Since week 10, they’ve faced the Lions, the Bears, the Packers, and the Bears. Now they have the Rams before finishing up with the Texans and the Packers. They’ve played 4 straight games against divisional foes and then after this they have an 11-2 Houston squad and the division leading Packers. Think they might be in a bit of a breather game situation against the Rams?
Speaking of those Rams, they’re actually playing some nice football lately. Since their bye, they’ve covered in 4 of 5, with that one non-cover coming against the Jets, in a game that the Jets had all the trends on their side. They tied the 49ers, beat the 49ers, and got road wins as dogs in Buffalo and Arizona as dogs. Improved health on their offensive line is to thank and this week they get even healthier as Danny Amendola is expected to return.
We are getting some line value with the Vikings using the net points per drive method as that says this line should be a pick em. The Vikings are 20th in net points per drive at -0.14, while the Rams are 25th at -0.40. If we take the difference, multiply by 11 (the average amount of drives per game per team), and factor in 2.5 points for home field, we get that this line should be a true pick em. However, that doesn’t hold up to DVOA, which has the Vikings just one spot better than the Rams, who are 19th, and it certainly doesn’t hold up to weighted DVOA, which weights more heavily recent games. The Rams rank 19th in that one as well, but the Vikings are 23rd.
Finally, I also really like that the public is all over Minnesota off of that win against the Bears. I love fading the public on heavy leans, especially heavy leans on dogs. The public always loses money in the long run. This is a breather game for a Vikings team that struggles to move the ball aerially and to play on the road against an underrated and finally healthy Rams team. I like the Rams for a significant play. They’re also my survivor pick in a bad week for survivor picks.
Public lean: Minnesota (70% range)
St. Louis Rams 20 Minnesota Vikings 12 Survivor Pick (HOU, NE, NO, BAL, SF, ATL, CHI, GB, SD, PIT, DAL, DEN, DET, SEA)
Pick against spread: St. Louis -2.5 (-110) 3 units