2016 Minnesota Vikings Home Schedule Odds and Picks with Win Total Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 7/12/2016
No team has played in a Super Bowl when its home stadium hosted it. Might the first time be on Feb. 4, 2018? I mention this because the Vikings are a young up-and-coming team that won the NFC North Division in 2015 for the first time since 2009 and could be a top NFC threat in 2017.
You surely remember that the Vikings played the past two seasons outdoors at the University of Minnesota. Do I think all four NFC North teams should play their home games outdoors? Absolutely I do (but only Bears and Packers are). That's real football for those Midwest clubs and fans. The wintry elements likely cost the Vikings a spot in the NFC's divisional round last year as normally sure kicker Blair Walsh hooked a potential winning 27-yard field goal in the final seconds of the wild-card round loss against the visiting Seattle Seahawks. It was truly one of the most devastating defeats I can remember in NFL postseason history and I'm not even a Vikings fan.
I think it's fair to say that no team is looking forward to its home slate more this season than the Vikings as they move into state-of-the-art U.S. Bank Stadium in downtown Minneapolis, and the city already has been given the Super Bowl following the 2017 season. Do I think Super Bowls should be held in cold-weather cities? I do not, and as a former member of the media we hated those, but what do I know? But it has become commonplace of late for new stadiums to be given Super Bowl hosting duties within years of opening. That's why we had a cold-weather one a couple of years ago outside New York City. U.S. Bank Stadium is the first fixed roof stadium built in the NFL since Ford Field, home of the Detroit Lions, opened in 2002. But the interesting part of the roof at U.S. Bank is that it's translucent, so it almost feels like you are playing outdoors but still have weather control. I try to visit every new NFL stadium so I'm planning a trip to the Twin Cities this fall.
The Vikings might actually reach this year's Super Bowl in Houston. They have the defense and running game (Adrian Peterson) to get there. Not sure Teddy Bridgewater is good enough under center, though.
Minnesota was 6-2 at home last season, 6-2 against the spread and 3-5 "over/under." The Vikings play three home games against 2015 playoff teams. I project another 6-2 home mark. With that defense, I think this club would be better outdoors late in the year. Minnesota's overall schedule ranks as the 18th-toughest in the NFL with an opponents' 2015 combined winning percentage of .488. They have a BetOnline wins total of 9.5, with the over at -130. I'd go over as I expect 10 wins. The Vikes are +235 to repeat as division champions but in my opinion will finish second to Green Bay. Odds listed below for the home team.
Sept. 18 vs. Packers (-1.5): Sunday night game. Can't ask for a better way to christen the stadium than having the regular-season debut against the hated Packers. Minnesota should be 1-0 after visiting Tennessee in Week 1. Green Bay could lose Week 1 at improving Jacksonville but I doubt it. The Packers won at the Vikings 30-13 in Week 11 last year, and I thought that all but killed the Vikes' division hopes. Bridgewater played well in throwing for 296 yards and a TD but he was sacked six times and Peterson was held to 45 yards rushing. Key trend: Vikes 3-7 ATS in past 10 as home favorite in series.
Oct. 3 vs. Giants (-6): Second home game, second prime-time game as this one is Monday night. Minnesota is off what should be a Week 3 loss at Carolina. New York is home to Washington the previous Sunday. The Vikings caught a break in Week 16 last year at home as Giants star receiver Odell Beckham Jr. was suspended and Minnesota rolled 49-17. Peterson ran for 104 yards and a touchdown over three quarters. The Vikings had three interceptions of Eli Manning, returning one for a score. The win clinched a playoff spot. Key trend: Vikes 3-0 SU in past three home meetings (2-1 ATS).
Oct. 9 vs. Texans (-6): Obviously a short week for the Vikes and the first time we will see the roof in action during the day. This also is ahead of Minnesota's bye week. Houston is off a Week 4 home game vs. Tennessee and might well be 4-0 entering this one. Minnesota is 3-0 all time in the series. Key trend: Vikes 8-2 ATS in past 10 before a bye (any location).
Nov. 6 vs. Lions (-6.5): Minnesota on a short week again, off a Halloween night trip to Chicago. Detroit is off a trip to Houston in Week 8. The Vikings beat the visiting Loins 26-16 in Week 2 last year in their home opener. Peterson rushed 29 times for 134 yards and caught two balls for 58. Bridgewater only threw it 18 times and completed 14 for 153 yards and a score. The Vikings forced three Lions turnovers. Key trend: Vikes 4-5-1 ATS in past 10 as home favorite of at least 6.5 points in series.
Nov. 20 vs. Cardinals (pick'em): Minnesota off a trip to Washington in Week 10 and this is the team's final home game vs. a 2015 playoff club. Arizona is home to San Francisco the previous Sunday. If Walsh hadn't missed that kick vs. Seattle, the Vikings would have played in Arizona in the divisional round instead of Green Bay going there. Minnesota did lose in the desert in Week 14 on a Thursday, 23-20, as Bridgewater somehow took a strip sack with five seconds left and the team already in field-goal range. You simply have to throw that ball away. Key trend: Vikes 5-4-1 ATS in past 10 at home vs. NFC West teams.
Dec 1 vs. Cowboys (-4.5): Thursday night game. Minnesota is off a Thanksgiving game in Detroit. Dallas also plays on Turkey Day as usual, hosting Washington. Minnesota lost the last meeting in this series, 27-23 in Dallas on Nov. 3, 2013. Key trend: Vikes 7-3 ATS in past 10 at home vs. NFC East teams.
Dec. 18 vs. Colts (-4): Minnesota off a trip to Jacksonville in Week 14. Indy is home to Houston the previous Sunday. The Colts weren't a playoff team in 2015 but likely will be this year if Andrew Luck stays healthy. Luck faces the Vikings for the first time since his NFL home debut back in 2012. Key trend: Vikes 4-2 ATS all time at home vs. AFC South foes.
Jan. 1 vs. Bears (TBA): As usual, no Week 17 lines posted ahead of time. Will this game mean anything after Minnesota visits Green Bay in Week 16? I'm fairly sure it won't have any meaning for the Bears, who enter off a Christmas Eve game vs. Washington. Minnesota beat the visiting Bears 38-17 in Week 15 last year to start its season-ending three-game winning streak. Bridgewater had the game of his life, completing 17-for-20 for four touchdowns and running for another. Key trend: Vikes 6-4 ATS in past 10 as home favorite (they should be) vs. Bears.
Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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