2018 Minnesota Vikings Road Schedule Odds with Expert Picks and Predictions
OK, let's compare the statistics of two NFL starting quarterbacks from 2017:
*-Quarterback A: 15 games played, 67.6 percent completions, 3,547 yards (7.37 ypa), 22 touchdowns, seven interceptions and a rating of 98.3.
*-Quarterback B: 16 games played, 64.3 percent completions, 4,093 yards (7.58 ypa), 27 touchdowns, 13 interceptions and a rating of 93.9.
The first quarterback listed was Minnesota's Case Keenum. All he did was lead the Vikings to the NFC North title and throw perhaps the most epic playoff touchdown pass in NFL history in a stunning divisional round win over the Saints. True, Keenum did struggle some in the NFC Championship wipeout loss in Philadelphia. Great season, though.
The other quarterback is Kirk Cousins, who has never led the Washington Redskins to the playoffs. Yet the Vikings said goodbye to Keenum (now in Denver) and signed Cousins to a three-year, $84 million contract - a historic deal as the first fully guaranteed in the NFL. Cousins was the highest-paid player in the league by average annual value until Matt Ryan recently passed him.
Is Cousins better than Keenum? Probably, but might the Vikings have been better off paying Keenum much less money and spreading the savings around elsewhere? The 2017 Vikings came as close as we've ever seen to a team playing in a Super Bowl in its own stadium, and I don't think Minnesota's going to get another chance at that in my lifetime. Sure, the Vikings might make the big game, maybe even this year, but the NFL isn't going to hand a Super Bowl to cold-weather Minneapolis again until the city builds yet another new stadium in 30 years or so.
Cousins definitely will be under some pressure because this club is Super Bowl ready with one of the league's best defenses, two excellent receivers in Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs, and the return of rookie running back Dalvin Cook, who looked like a potential star last season before going down with a torn ACL. All the pieces are here.
Minnesota was 6-2 on the road last season (best in division), 5-3 against the spread and 4-4 "over/under." The Vikings travel to three playoff teams from 2017: LA Rams, Philadelphia and New England. The road schedule looks way harder than at home with it also including perennial playoff team Seattle. I project the Vikings to go 4-4 on the road. Odds listed for the home team.
Sept. 16 at Packers (-2.5): Minnesota off what looks now like a tough home opener vs. the 49ers. The Vikings have played at Green Bay in either Week 16 or Week 17 in each of the past three seasons. This is their earliest trip there since 2008. Minnesota won at Lambeau 16-0 in Week 16 last year when Aaron Rodgers was done for the season. It was the Vikings' first shutout in the series since Nov. 14, 1971. Key trend: Vikes 1-4 ATS in five trips to Green Bay as a 3-point dog or fewer.
Sept. 27 at Rams (-3): The NFL upgraded the Thursday night schedule this year with it moving to Fox, and this might be the best matchup of them all. It's the fourth meeting in five seasons between the franchises. Last year in Week 11 in Minneapolis, the Vikings limited the Rams' then-No. 1 offense to just 45 rushing yards and 209 net passing yards in a 24-7 win. Key trend: Vikings have won and covered three straight at Rams, although those were in St. Louis.
Oct. 7 at Eagles (-3.5): Incredibly tough back-to-back for Minnesota, but at least on extra rest off facing the Rams. This will be third consecutive season in which the Vikings have played the Eagles on the road. Of course, they met in last season's NFC title game and Philly rolled 38-7. The Vikings scored on their first possession and that was it. Keenum was picked off twice, one returned 50 yards for a score. Key trend: Including playoffs, Vikes just 2-8 ATS in past 10 at Philly.
Oct. 21 at Jets (+4): The big story line here is the Jets badly wanted Cousins and reportedly offered him much more money than the Vikings did. Cousins never even visited the Jets, though. Minnesota is 0-5 all-time at the Jets but won the last meeting at TCF Bank Stadium in 2014. Key trend: Vikings 5-5 ATS in past 10 as at least a 4-point road favorite.
Nov. 18 at Bears (+3): Vikings off their bye week. Minnesota eked out a 20-17 win in Chicago on Monday in Week 5 last year. Sam Bradford actually started that game, but it would be the last time we would see him. Kai Forbath kicked a 26-yard field goal in the closing seconds after a Harrison Smith interception. Key trend: Vikes 2-8 ATS in past 10 as road favorite in series.
Dec. 2 at Patriots (-4.5): Vikings off a big Sunday night home game vs. Green Bay. Minnesota lost the last regular-season meeting with New England 30-7 in 2014 and lost 28-18 on Halloween 2010 in its last trip to Foxboro. The Vikings' last win in the series was way back in 2000. Key trend: Vikes 1-9 SU but 6-4 ATS in past 10 as road dog of at least 4.5 points.
Dec. 10 at Seahawks (+2): Monday night. This might be the swing game on Minnesota going 4-4 or 3-5 away from home as the Vikings should win at the Jets, Bears and Lions, but any of the others will be quite tough. The Vikings have lost four straight contests to the Seahawks, most notably 10-9 in the Wild Card round of the 2015 playoffs when Blair Walsh hooked a bunny field goal in the final seconds. Key trend: Vikings 2-5 ATS at Seahawks.
Dec. 23 at Lions (+6.5): Minnesota is 33-23-1 all-time at the Lions. The Vikings won there on Thanksgiving last year, 30-23. Keenum threw for two touchdowns and ran for a score in the first half. Latavius Murray had 84 yards rushing and a touchdown. Key trend: Vikes 8-2 SU & 5-5 ATS in past 10 as road favorite in series.
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Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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