New York Giants at Minnesota Vikings: 2022 Week 16 NFL Pick

New York Giants (8-5-1) at Minnesota Vikings (11-3)

Both of these teams have impressive records, but both teams have needed to have a lot of success in close games to get to these records, which tends not to be sustainable long-term, as victories by larger margins are more predictive of future success than close victories. The Vikings have gone a ridiculous 10-0 in one-score games, with just a 1-3 record in games decided by more than one score, while the Giants are 8-2-1 in one-score games and don’t have any wins by more than one score, going 0-3 in games decided by more than 8 points. 

As a result, the Vikings have just a +2 point differential and rank just 20th in schedule adjusted efficiency (-1.13), while the Giants have a -25 point differential and rank 27th in schedule adjusted efficiency (-4.81). This line seems to take into account that the Vikings are not as good as their record, but I think it overrates the Giants, only favoring the Vikings at home by four points, even though the Vikings have a 3.5-point edge in schedule adjusted efficiency. The difference is even bigger in my roster rankings, with the Vikings being relatively healthy and the Giants having significant injury concerns, including the absence of their two best cornerbacks and their top safety, leading to the Vikings having a 7-point edge in my roster rankings. 

Overall, my calculated line favors the Vikings by seven, which might seem high, given how many close games the Vikings play, but, while they don’t have many wins by more than one-score, seven of the Vikings’ eleven wins have actually come by four points or more, while all five of the Giants’ losses have come by more than four, so I feel confident in the Vikings at this number. This isn’t a big play, but Minnesota should be bettable this week.

Minnesota Vikings 27 New York Giants 20

Pick against the spread: Minnesota -4

Confidence: Medium

Indianapolis Colts at Minnesota Vikings: 2022 Week 15 NFL Pick

Indianapolis Colts (4-8-1) at Minnesota Vikings (10-3)

The Vikings are 10-3 and the Colts are 4-8-1, so it might come as a surprise that the Vikings are just 4-point home favorites in this game, but it makes sense. As good as the Vikings’ record is, they have had to go a ridiculous 9-0 in one score games, which is not sustainable or predictive long-term, and actually have a losing record (1-3) in games decided by more than one-score, leading to them actually having a negative point differential at -1. They have also benefitted from a +6 turnover margin (4th in the NFL), which is not sustainable or predictive week-to-week, and, in terms of schedule adjusted efficiency, which is more predictive than anything, the Vikings rank just 20th, about 1.5 points below average.

The Colts, on the other hand, have a -89 point differential that is 2nd worst in the NFL, but their biggest problem has been their league worst -14 turnover margin and, in terms of schedule adjusted efficiency, they rank 23rd, about 3 points below average, not far behind the Vikings. The Colts were blown out by 35 in their last game, prior to last week’s bye, but the Colts lost the turnover margin by four in that game, making the final score worse than it would have been otherwise and teams tend to bounce back off of blowout defeats pretty well anyway, covering the spread at a 58.9% rate after losing by 35+ points, including a 61.5% cover rate after a bye week.

That may seem counterintuitive, but teams tend to be overlooked, undervalued, and embarrassed after a big blowout loss like that and I think all three will be the case this week, especially with the Colts having an extra week to think about their blowout loss. Also counterintuitive is the fact that teams cover the spread at a 54.1% rate when facing a team with a turnover margin that is 15+ points better than there’s, but it makes sense when you consider that turnover margins don’t have nearly as much predictive value week-to-week as most people think.

The Colts have also had several key players miss significant time due to injury this season, most notably quarterback Matt Ryan (two games missed), top offensive lineman Braden Smith (one game missed), feature back Jonathan Taylor (three games missed), top edge defender Kwity Paye (five games missed), and top linebacker Shaq Leonard (ten games missed), and all of those players have since returned except Leonard, who has barely played this season, so the Colts are coming into this week about as healthy as they’ve been all season.

All of this being said, it’s hard to bet on the Colts this week with the line being where it is, only favoring the Vikings by four. A few years ago, I suspect this line would have been seven or higher and the Colts would have been a great bet at that number, but the oddsmakers have gotten significantly smarter in recent years, with the amount of wagers being placed increasing significantly due to legalization, and, as a result, we’re not getting any value with the Colts, even if the public is underrating them and overrating the Vikings. I am still going to take the Colts for pick ‘em purposes as a fade of the public, who is on the Vikings in a big way, setting the books up for a big payday if the Colts cover, but this line is too short to be confident in them.

Minnesota Vikings 23 Indianapolis Colts 20

Pick against the spread: Indianapolis +4

Confidence: None

Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions: 2022 Week 14 NFL Pick

Minnesota Vikings (10-2) at Detroit Lions (5-7)

The Vikings have not played nearly as good as their 10-2 record, going an unsustainable 9-0 in one score games, managing just a +10 point differential, and ranking just 18th in schedule adjusted efficiency. However, the public seems to understand that their record is not indicative of how good of a team they are, so we haven’t gotten great line value betting against them recently, leading to the Vikings covering the spread in three of their past four games. 

If anything, we’re getting line value in this game with the Vikings, who have shifted from being 3-point favorites on the early line last week to now being 2-point underdogs against a 5-7 Lions team. The Lions won big against the Jaguars last week, while the Vikings barely put away with the Jets, but that line movement seems like an overreaction to a single week of play and I like to go against significant week-to-week line movements that are overreactions.

Even not being as good as their record, the Vikings should still be favored by at least a couple points here in Detroit, especially with stud left tackle Christian Darrisaw set to return, a big re-addition. I would need this line to be a full field goal for the Vikings to be worth betting against the spread, but the money line is a good value at +110, as the Vikings should still be at least slight favorites, and the Vikings are also a good pick for pick ‘em purposes.

Minnesota Vikings 34 Detroit Lions 31 Upset Pick +110

Pick against the spread: Minnesota +2

Confidence: Low

New York Jets at Minnesota Vikings: 2022 Week 13 NFL Pick

New York Jets (7-4) at Minnesota Vikings (9-2)

The Vikings are 9-2, but they have needed an 8-0 record in one score games to get there and they have just a +5 point differential. However, this seems to be well known, as they are only 3-point home favorites against the Jets. The Jets have a significantly better point differential (+34), but they’ve been much more defensive oriented (12th in schedule adjusted efficiency), while the Vikings have been more offensive oriented (3rd in schedule adjusted efficiency), which tends to be more predictive of future success, and the Vikings hold the edge in my roster rankings as well. If anything, we’re actually getting a little bit of line value with the Vikings at -3, so they seem like the better side for pick ‘em purposes, even if there’s not enough here for the Vikings to be worth betting.

Minnesota Vikings 23 New York Jets 19

Pick against the spread: Minnesota -3

Confidence: Low

New England Patriots at Minnesota Vikings: 2022 Week 12 NFL Pick

New England Patriots (6-4) at Minnesota Vikings (8-2)

Normally the rule of thumb on a short week is to take the home team as long as they are favored and as long as it is a non-divisional game, as it’s very tough for a team to go on the road on a short week and face an unfamiliar opponent, unless they happen to be significantly better than their opponent. All in all, non-divisional home favorites cover at a 62.0% rate on Thursday Night Football and that trend applies to this game, with the Patriots on the road facing the Vikings in this Thanksgiving matchup.

It’s also typically a good idea to bet on teams who were just blown out, like the Vikings were last week against the Cowboys, as teams tend to be overlooked, underrated, and embarrassed after a blowout loss, with teams covering at a 58.6% rate after a loss by 35 points or more. That drops to 52.1% if we just look at teams that are favored, but, at the very least, that’s a good sign that we shouldn’t avoid the Vikings just because they were blown out last week and are now favored.

I can’t guarantee that the Vikings will be overlooked or embarrassed, but we are getting more line value with them than we were a week ago, as this line has shifted from favoring the Vikings by 3.5 points on the early line last week to favoring them by 2.5 points this week, a bigger shift than you might realize, with 1 in 6 games decided by exactly a field goal. Despite that, it’s hard to get excited about betting on the Vikings this week as, even with that line movement, we’re still getting some line value with the Patriots.

The Vikings are 8-2, but they’ve benefitted from a 7-0 record in games decided by one score and they actually have a significantly worse point differential (-2) than the 6-4 Patriots (+44). The gap between these two teams is significant in terms of schedule adjusted efficiency as well, with the 20th ranked Vikings being 1.5 points below average and the 14th ranked Patriots being a half point above average. 

Minnesota is more talented than that suggests, but they’re missing three of their top-4 cornerbacks and their stud left tackle Christian Darrisaw, so I have the Patriots as the slightly better team overall, giving us a calculated line of Minnesota -1. That’s not much line value with the Patriots, but it’s enough to give me pause about betting on the Vikings, even in a good spot. I would still consider betting on the Vikings if Patriots center David Andrews doesn’t play and Vikings’ interior defender Dalvin Tomlinson does, but both players are likely game time decisions, so I’m leaving this as a low confidence pick for now.

Minnesota Vikings 20 New England Patriots 16

Pick against the spread: Minnesota -2.5

Confidence: Low

Dallas Cowboys at Minnesota Vikings: 2022 Week 11 NFL Pick

Dallas Cowboys (6-3) at Minnesota Vikings (8-1)

The Vikings are 8-1, but they have won all seven of their one-score games and have won the turnover battle by 8 (2nd best in the NFL), both of which are not sustainable long-term. They beat the Bills last week, but Buffalo was missing several key defenders and, despite that, the Vikings lost the first down rate battle and yards per play battle by 9.04% and 0.66 respectively, needing to win the turnover battle by two and to score a defensive touchdown to barely win in overtime. 

Even with that win taken into account, the Vikings still rank just 19th in schedule adjusted efficiency, about one point below average, which is much more predictive than turnover margin. The Cowboys are a couple games worse in the standings, but rank about 3.5 points above average in schedule adjusted efficiency, 8th in the league, even though starting quarterback Dak Prescott missed five games with injury. The public and the oddsmakers both seem to understand that though, leading to the Vikings actually being 2-point home underdogs in this game.

With that in mind, I actually like the Vikings for pick ‘em purposes. While there is a significant gap between these two teams in schedule adjusted efficiency, my roster rankings have them much closer together, with the Vikings still among the most talented teams in the league, despite what the statistics say, and I think the Vikings could play with a chip on their shoulder being underdogs yet again. There isn’t enough here for the Vikings to be worth betting against the spread, but they seem like the right side for pick ‘em purposes and a small bet on the money line at +105 makes sense as well, as the Vikings should be considered no worse than 50/50 to win this game here at home.

Minnesota Vikings 24 Dallas Cowboys 23 Upset Pick +105

Pick against the spread: Minnesota +1.5

Confidence: Low

Minnesota Vikings at Buffalo Bills: 2022 Week 10 NFL Pick

Minnesota Vikings (7-1) at Buffalo Bills (6-2)

In ordinary circumstances, I would like the Bills this week. They lost to the Jets as 11.5-point favorites in a close game last week, but the Jets are at least a decent team and teams tend to bounce back from big upset losses anyway, covering the spread at a 58.3% rate all-time after a loss as 10-point favorites or more. This week, the Bills face the Vikings, who, at 7-1, now have a better record than the Bills, but most of the Vikings’ wins have been close, with six of seven coming by eight points or fewer points or fewer, while four of the Bills’ six wins have come by ten points or more, a trend that dates back to the start of last season, over which time they have a margin of victory of 21.1 points per game in 18 victories, while all but eight of their nine losses have come by seven points or fewer. The Vikings have also benefited from a +6 turnover margin, which is not predictive, while the Bills are only at +1.

Unfortunately, these are not ordinary circumstances, as the Bills are in a terrible injury situation. Not only is quarterback Josh Allen not expected to play because of an elbow injury that could get worse, but the Bills are missing key players on defense as well. Already without talented safety Micah Hyde, the Bills will be without their other talented safety Jordan Poyer, whose absence was felt in the Bills’ loss last week, and also will be without talented edge defender Greg Rousseau, who will miss his first game of the season this week.

Assuming Allen is out, my calculated line is even, with backup Case Keenum being serviceable, but an obvious downgrade. This line is at Buffalo -3, but it probably takes into account the possibility that Allen does play, even if the chances are slim. Allen’s uncertainty makes this game tough to bet, as the Vikings would probably be worth betting at +3 if Allen didn’t play, but there’s still a chance he could and, if he’s ruled out, the line will likely drop. I’m taking the Vikings for a low confidence pick for now, but I could have an update before game time depending on Allen’s status and where this line ends up.

Update: Josh Allen looks like he will unexpectedly play and start for the Bills and, as a result, the line has moved up to 6. If I knew Allen was healthy and would play the whole game, the Bills would be bettable at that number, getting good line value in a good spot, but how well and how much Allen plays is still somewhat in question, so this is going to be a no confidence pick.

Buffalo Bills 27 Minnesota Vikings 20

Pick against the spread: Buffalo -6

Confidence: None

Minnesota Vikings at Washington Commanders: 2022 Week 9 NFL Pick

Minnesota Vikings (6-1) at Washington Commanders (4-4)

Going into the season, the Vikings were one of my top underrated teams and I expected a significant improvement in win total from their 7-9 and 8-9 finishes from the previous two seasons, due to better coaching on offense and likely better health on defense. So far, the Vikings are 6-1 and exceeding most people’s expectations, but that also haven’t played quite as well as that would suggest, with five of their six wins coming by eight points or fewer and their one loss coming by 17, giving them a point differential of +29, which is good, but not as good as their record would suggest. 

The Vikings have also benefited significantly from turnovers, ranking tied for 2nd best in the NFL with a +6 turnover margin, which is not predictive week-to-week. In terms of schedule adjusted efficiency, the Vikings rank just 15th, about a half point above average. The Commanders also haven’t played as well as their record though, as their four wins have come by a combined 14 points and their four losses have come by a combined 44 points, giving them a point differential of -30 that ranks 5th worst in the NFL. 

With both teams not as good as their records, I actually think this line, favoring the visiting Vikings by a field goal is about right. My calculated line suggests the Vikings are more likely to cover this number than the Commanders, but not by much and the most likely outcome may be a push, given how many games are decided by exactly a field goal. I’m taking the Vikings at -3, but I would take the Commanders at +3.5.

Minnesota Vikings 23 Washington Commanders 20

Pick against the spread: Minnesota -3

Confidence: None

Arizona Cardinals at Minnesota Vikings: 2022 Week 8 NFL Pick

Arizona Cardinals (3-4) at Minnesota Vikings (5-1)

The Cardinals were at the top of my overrated teams list coming into the season. They went 11-6 last season, but needed a +12 turnover margin to get to that record, which is not predictive, and they ranked just 14th in overall efficiency, barely above average. They also got a lot worse this off-season, losing starting wide receiver Christian Kirk, top edge defender Chandler Jones, top off ball linebacker Jordan Hicks, top cornerback Robert Alford, and their most efficient running back Chase Edmonds, with their only major addition being former Ravens wide receiver Marquise Brown, who cost the Cardinals their first round pick in a trade and who isn’t a significant upgrade on Christian Kirk.

The Cardinals are off to a 3-4 start, which is disappointing compared to last season, but I think they are still overrated, as they have been reliant on a +5 turnover margin to win them games, as they rank just 29th in schedule adjusted efficiency. Injuries have also become a significant concern, with two starting offensive linemen, Justin Pugh and Rodney Hudson, starting wide receiver Marquise Brown, and feature back James Conner all out indefinitely, hurting an offense that has thus far been their better side of the ball this season. Despite that, they are just 3.5 point underdogs in Minnesota against the 5-1 Vikings.

The Vikings came into the season as one of my top underrated teams, due to improved coaching on offense and better health on defense and so far they have gotten off to a good start. Beyond their record, they also rank 5 points above average in my roster rankings and 8 points higher than the Cardinals. Given that, we’re getting a steal with the Vikings as mere 3.5-point home favorites, as they should be favored by at least a touchdown, if not 10 points, considering how mediocre the Cardinals have played aside from turnovers. This is my top Pick of the Week.

Minnesota Vikings 30 Arizona Cardinals 20

Pick against the spread: Minnesota -3.5

Confidence: Pick of the Week

Minnesota Vikings at Miami Dolphins: 2022 Week 6 NFL Pick

Minnesota Vikings (4-1) at Miami Dolphins (3-2)

Coming into the season, I expected the Vikings to be better than a year ago and make the post-season, with better health on defense and better coaching on offense. So far, they are 4-1, with their only loss coming to the undefeated Eagles, but they are still underrated, as they rank 8th in schedule adjusted efficiency and are still just 3-point favorites on the road against a Dolphins team that is starting a 3rd string, 7th round rookie quarterback Skylar Thompson, with Tua Tagovailoa out and Teddy Bridgewater expected to be the backup if active. My calculated line has the Vikings favored by 6.5, so they’re worth a big bet at 3, as they are likely to at least push at that number.

Minnesota Vikings 27 Miami Dolphins 20

Pick against the spread: Minnesota -3

Confidence: High