Minnesota Vikings 2018 NFL Team Preview
2017 Record: 13-3
2017 ATS: 11-5
2017 Over/Under: 7-9
2018 Regular Season Wins Total: 10.5 wins
Well-coached, sound offense, stellar defense, straight up wins (13-3), point spread covers (11-5 ATS)…the Minnesota Vikings did it all in 2017. Now in his fifth season, head coach Mike Zimmer has his squad poised for even bigger things, particularly on the offensive side of the ball.
Despite winning better than 60 percent of his games as a head coach, Zimmer has never had a quarterback as polished as Kirk Cousins. Cousins was one of eight quarterbacks to throw for over 4,000 yards last season as did so with a makeshift offensive line, poor run game, and against an above-average league schedule. Cousins now has a plethora of talent surrounding him including one of the league’s best receiver tandems in Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen. Kyle Rudolph is a premium tight end and running back Dalvin Cook is back after playing in only four games as a rookie due to injury. Offensive coordinator and the NFL’s Assistant Coach of the Year Pat Shurmur left to take over as head coach of the New York Giants. John DeFilippo steps in and while his track record isn’t great (he was fired as OC of the Cleveland Browns in 2015), he inherits a wealth of top-tier talent. The only knock against the offense is a suspect offensive line that remains largely unchanged after ranking 22nd in the league according to Pro Football Focus.
The defense welcomes back 10 of 11 starters and added tackle Sheldon Richardson. A year removed for a #2 DVOA ranking, this year’s unit could be even better. It’s scary to think how much pressure the Vikings will be able to generate with Richardson, Linval Joseph, and edge rushers Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter. The secondary is also stout with the team’s top seven back including shutdown corner Xavier Rhodes. Depth, however, is a concern. With so much talent among the starting unit, there will be a considerable drop off should multiple injuries occur.
The schedule is considerably tougher this season. The NFC North projects to be far stronger with Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers healthy and the Chicago Bears pegged for massive improvement. There are also road games against three Super Bowl contenders; the Los Angeles Rams, Philadelphia Eagles, and New England Patriots. Such a daunting slate is likely why we see sportsbooks shading the juice on Minnesota’s season win total of 10.5 towards the under.
Bettors Should Keep an Eye On: Value. Every oddsmaker and bettor knows that on paper, the Minnesota Vikings have few if any flaws. This is a squad that went 13-2 ATS with Case Keenum under center and somehow improved during the offseason. Look no further than Week 1’s game vs. San Francisco as the Vikings jumped from -4.5 to -6. It’s too well built of a team to peg as “bet against” but covering numbers could be a bit trickier in 2018.
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