The Vikings need a better performance out of their O-Line this year if Teddy Bridgwater is to elevate his game
The Minnesota Vikings posted their best record since 2009 last year but more importantly for bettors, the club cashed 13 of 16 tickets during the regular season. The .812 ATS win percentage led all teams and eight of the covers were by at least seven points. Online bookmakers are already adjusting the spreads for 2016, making the Vikings an early favorite in 12 games. The chess match for this year will be recognizing spots where the line has gone too far.
LAST YEAR’S RECORD & 2016 NFL FUTURES
Win-Loss: 11-5 SU and 13-3 ATS
Over/Under: 4-8-4 O/U
Noteworthy: Teams that covered 10, 11 or 12 games ATS the previous year have not been a good bet as small chalk, going just 258-272-18 ATS (49-percent) since 1989 as faves of -4 or less. Of the rare teams that covered 13 games, the record in this same spot improves to 15-5 ATS and Minnesota could be “live” in this spot anywhere from six to 10 times. That’s a small sample size but still worth noting.
Teddy Bridgewater’s final stats on passes per game, passing yards, yards per pass and passing TDs all saw minor setbacks in 2015 (1- to 12-percent decreases), but his interceptions per game was nearly cut in half, from 0.9 to 0.5. Bridgewater looked good in OTAs and the Vikings supplemented their offense with first round pick Laquon Treadwell out of Ole Miss. Stefon Diggs (52 for 720) and Kyle Rudolph (49 for 495) led the team in catches and receiving yards and there is a chance Cordarelle Patterson gets more involved, but this offense still rests on Adrian Peterson.
Offensive line issues were apparent during Minnesota’s playoff loss to Seattle and with Bridgewater under center, it was obvious the team needed to focus their efforts there. Alex Boone (Niners) and Andre Smith (Bengals) were acquired through free agency. C John Sullivan also returns after missing last year with back injuries. For all intents, this unit is poised to make improvements in 2016.
Defensively, the Vikings were 11th against the pass and 19th against the rush. They gave up a 337 total yards per game (10th) but had a “bend but don’t break” attitude when it mattered most. Overall, Minnesota ranked fourth against third downs and fifth inside the red zone behind the Jets, Rams, Hawks and Mike Zimmer’s old team, the Bengals.
VIKINGS BOTTOM LINE: ROAD RUNNERS
Four of Minny’s road games this year are vs. teams that averaged fewer than 100 rushing yards per game in 2015. If the Vikings run D improves, these could be good spots to consider laying short points. Those games are Week 1 (Titans), Week 10 (Redskins), Week 12 (Lions) and Week 14 (Jaguars). When holding opponents to less than 100 yards in 2015, the Vikings were 9-1 SU and 10-0 ATS.