No disrespect to the Minnesota Vikings. No one envies a roster of players going through a rough media cycle.
But from the impartial handicapper’s point-of-view the plight of the Norsemen in Week 5 is an excellent test-case for how much a mostly off-the-field drama will affect or not affect the moneylines and point spreads.
In fact, this time it doesn’t appear to have much impact at all. Moneyline wagers on Minnesota at shorter than 1-to-2 odds are not popular, but the pick “Vikings to cover against the spread” is getting heavy-enough action to mark the visitors as an enhanced (-6) point-spread favorite against the host New York Giants on Sunday afternoon.
The Oakland Raiders already enhanced their season by punting a diva WR out of town. Perhaps NFL odds-makers (and speculators ATS) think more addition-by-subtraction could be about to take place in the Twin Cities.
Who: Minnesota Vikings at New York Giants
When: Sunday, October 6th, 1 PM EST
Where: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ
Lines: MN (-6) at NYG (+6) / O/U Total: (43.5)
New York is coming off a terrific defensive performance against Washington, but it won’t get easier to play D in Week 5 with Dalvin Cook coming to town. Perhaps the Chicago Bears having walloped Cook and the entire Minnesota offense could be said to have given a blueprint to Big Blue coaches on stopping the Vikings…but given the familiarity factor it’s likely that Sunday’s game plans have been cooking for a long time.
Former Viking assistant coach Pat Shurmer is now head coach of the Giants, and he’s got a couple of former Vikings under his direction in New York in offensive lineman Mike Remmers and versatile TE/FB Rhett Ellison.
The Giants were anxious to play their 1st game since losing Saquon Barkley to a high ankle sprain, and backup Wayne Gallman filled his role (if not the role) surprisingly well, rushing for 63 yards, adding 55 yards on receptions, and finding the end zone twice. Washington often put up very light resistance, however.
Rookie QB Daniel Jones needs to protect the ball better. The 6th overall pick in last April’s draft has shown flashes of elite form, even proving to be a threat with his legs with 2 rushing TD’s on the season already, but he was intercepted twice last week and has lost 3 fumbles.
Minnesota, meanwhile, is an odd road favorite. The quarterback and the WR corps are awash in controversy,
Frustration was Kirk Cousins’ play at QB came to a head this week as wide receiver Adam Thielen openly suggested that Cousins was off his game following the Chicago loss. Cousins wound up apologizing to Thielen for missing him on a potential touchdown on Cousins’ show Under Center and it’s certainly possible that there are no further problems remaining between the pair.
Stefon Diggs was the lone bright spot in a 16-6 loss to the Bears last week, catching 7 passes for 108 yards, but he mysteriously missed practice on Wednesday and stories are circulating that Diggs now wants out of Minnesota.
Take it from the horse’s mouth:
“There’s truth to all rumors,” Diggs said in his first public comments since mid-September. “And what I mean by that, so I can politely explain, there was a lot of speculation of me being frustrated. Of course. Being a receiver, and wanting to have success and wanting to win, if you want to win and you’re not winning, of course you’ll be frustrated.”
The Vikings are 2-2 and in last place in the NFC North after four weeks, and those losses have been particularly frustrating for everyone depending on Minnesota’s quarterback. The Vikings lost to Green Bay 21-16 in Week 2 after Cousins threw an interception late in the fourth quarter on an ill-advised pass on first-and-goal at the 8-yard line. Last week, the Vikings lost to Chicago 16-6 because the Bears shut down running back Dalvin Cook and Minnesota failed to successfully pivot to passing. Midway through the third quarter of Sunday’s game, Diggs and receiver Adam Thielen had fewer combined targets than fullback C.J. Ham. Diggs was reportedly seen yelling on the sideline in the direction of Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski and threw his gloves on the ground after one failed drive.
Heck, I don’t know why any receivers would be unhappy playing in Minnesota. Head coach Zimmer didn’t even know it was legal to call hand-offs (in clutch scenarios, anyway) as of last season, and only learned the concept of the “forward run” after the Vikings watched Cook screaming by on the practice field this summer and wondered what to do with him.
It’s rare to see a team with this much controversy out in the open getting heavy Las Vegas action as a favorite on the road…against an NFC club with an equal 2-2 record.
Throw aside any other trends, because that’s just irrational. The Giants have a quarterback controversy of their own, but made a decision and are sticking to it. That’s better than the toxic stew brewing in Valkyrie-ville.
Take the Giants to cover (+6).