Atlanta Falcons (0-5) at Minnesota Vikings (1-4)
The Vikings are just 1-4, but they’ve played much better than their record has suggested. For one, their early schedule has been absolutely brutal, with their easiest game coming on the road in Houston against a Texans team that is also a lot better than it’s 1-4 record. The Vikings won that game and have been competitive in most of their other games, despite the tough competition and despite some fluky things going against them that should even out in the long run (opponents are 6 for 8 on fourth downs, Vikings are 3 for 6, opponents are 15 for 15 on field goals, the Vikings have recovered just 33.33% of available fumbles). In terms of first down rate differential, the Vikings rank 10th in the league at +2.79%, despite the toughest schedule in the league.
The Vikings’ schedule gets a lot easier this week, as they are hosting the winless Falcons in Minnesota. They’ve been about as bad as there record would suggest, ranking 29th in first down rate differential -4.95%.Their offense is better than it’s played so far (23rd in first down rate differential at 37.57%) but their defense is undoubtedly one of the worst in the league and, with the Vikings being a formidable opponent, I have this line calculated at Minnesota -7.5, even taking into account that the Vikings won’t have star running back Dalvin Cook due to an injury and that they won’t have any traditional fans for this game. This line is at just 4 because the general public doesn’t realize the Vikings have played so much better than their record suggests and we’re getting great line value as a result. This is one of my top picks I am considering for Pick of the Week and, even if it’s not my top pick this week, this still is worth a big play.
Minnesota Vikings 31 Atlanta Falcons 23
Pick against the spread: Minnesota -4