Visiting Vikings Heavy Favorites at Lambeau Field for Saturday Night

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The Minnesota Vikings-Green Bay Packers rivalry hasn’t seen a spread like this in three decades.

With the playing-for-pride Packers shutting down franchise QB Aaron Rodgers for the season, the Vikings are listed as 9-point road favorites at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com against Green Bay with a 40-point total in a Saturday matchup on the NFL Week 16 schedule.

According to the OddsShark NFL Database, this is the first time since 2000 the Vikings have gone into Green Bay as the favorite. It is also the most points the Packers have been spotted for a home game since 1988.

Minnesota is 6-3 straight-up and 5-4 against the spread over their last nine games as a road favorite. Green Bay, with Brett Hundley back as the starting quarterback, are 1-6 SU and 1-5-1 ATS in their last seven games as a home underdog.

With a forecast high of 20 degrees, the weather will be a factor for both offenses, but the Vikings, who are 11-3 SU and 10-4 ATS, don’t fit the stereotype of dome teams. Many members of QB Case Keenum’s complement of receivers – including WR Stefon Diggs, WR Adam Thielen, RB Jerick McKinnon and TE Kyle Rudolph – were around when Minnesota played in the elements in 2015.

Depending on how much of an equalization the conditions become, Keenum and Co. should have a matchup edge since the Packers give up 7.8 yards per pass, fourth-worst in the NFL.

The Vikings, if LT Riley Rieff (ankle) returns, should have their entire offensive line whole again. Minnesota has a good-but-great ground game with Latavius Murray and McKinnon and the Packers are limiting teams to just 4.0 yards per rush, ninth in the NFL.

The prospects for the Packers, who are 7-7 SU and ATS, getting a shot at the cover or the outright victory likely come down to the production of Hundley and the protection of his offensive line. Instability with the latter is why Green Bay has allowed way too many sacks (46) this season, but they are relatively healthy.

With Davante Adams in the concussion protocol, Green Bay will likely be counting on the WR trio of Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson and Geronimo Allison to find slews of space against Minnesota’s second-ranked defense, whose 5.9 yards per pass allowed is also second in the NFL.

Green Bay, which is 4-2 ATS in its last six games, has an above-average rushing attack with the Jamaal Williams-Aaron Jones tandem. Whether they get to use it against the Vikings, whose 3.7 yards allowed per rush is also second in the NFL, depends on not falling behind and containing Minnesota early.

Bettors should keep an eye on the total as kickoff approaches. The over is 19-14-3 in 36 NFL games this season that had a closing total of less than 40.

The total has gone over in four of the Vikings’ last five games as road favorites. The closing totals in those games ranged between 38.0 and 40.5 – similar to the total for this matchup. The total has gone over in the Packers’ last six games in December.

For more info, picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the new OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes, or check it out at OddsShark.libsyn.com.

Marcus Mariota can’t even explain his historic touchdown catch

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A touchdown pass to … yourself?!

That’s exactly what happened to Titans QB Marcus Mariota in Tennessee’s incredible 22-21 Wild Card victory over the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Chiefs were up 21-3 entering halftime and appeared to be well on their way to advancing to the divisional round of the NFL playoffs, but then Mariota made history with one of the craziest plays you’ll ever see:

With the six-yard touchdown, Mariota became the first player in NFL history to record a passing and receiving TD in a playoff game.

NFL Wild Card Weekend betting lines reflect recent favorites trend

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Wild Card Weekend has been ruled by favored teams recently – on the field, if not on the board. Favored teams are 10-2 straight-up in wild card games over the last three seasons. At the sportsbooks – and this seems germane with the home teams each laying at least six points this weekend – favorites are a more modest 7-4-1 against the spread.

The 2017 playoffs saw home teams go 4-0 SU and ATS in wild card games. Eighteen of the last 28 wild card games have gone under the posted total, with one push.

The Kansas City Chiefs are listed as 9-point favorites against the Tennessee Titans with a 44-point total at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com in a Saturday matchup. The Chiefs are just 1-6 ATS in their last seven playoff games as a favorite, but QB Alex Smith has had a stronger second half of the season than Marcus Mariota, his Titans counterpart.

Tennessee, which is 5-1 ATS in its last six games against the Chiefs, could be compromised offensively if DeMarco Murray (knee) is unable to play and spell off team rushing leader Derrick Henry. The total has gone over in five of the Titans’ last seven games against the Chiefs.

The Los Angeles Rams are 6.5-point betting favorites against the Atlanta Falcons with a 48.5-point total in the late Saturday matchup. The Rams and first-time playoff QB Jared Goff are just 3-8 ATS in their last 11 home games. However, Los Angeles, which lost its regular-season finale against the San Francisco 49ers, is 5-0 SU in its last five games after a loss.

Falcons QB Matt Ryan, whose team is 10-3 ATS in its last 13 night games, will not have his optimal offensive line in front of him as LG Andy Levitre (triceps) is out for the season. The Rams defense, led by DT Aaron Donald, has the third-highest tally of interceptions. The total has gone under in the Falcons’ last five games.

The Jacksonville Jaguars are nine-point betting favorites against the Buffalo Bills with a 39.5-point total in a Sunday matchup between teams that had a combined 26-year playoff drought (since 1999 for the Bills; 2007 for the Jags). The visiting team is 5-1 ATS in the last six games of this matchup, but Buffalo will likely only stand a chance if RB LeSean McCoy (ankle sprain) is healthy enough to play; there is no way he will be 100 percent.

The Jaguars, who are only 4-13 SU in their last 17 home games against teams with winning records, must hope QB Blake Bortles has some recent regression out of his system. The total has gone over in the Bills’ last five games against the Jaguars.

And the New Orleans Saints are listed as seven-point favorites against the Carolina Panthers with a 48-point total in a late Sunday betting matchup. The Panthers and QB Cam Newton are 0-5-1 ATS in their last six tries against the NFC South rival Saints and also boast the NFL’s 28th-ranked passing attack while the Saints are fifth through the air (each team’s pass defense is right in the middle of the rankings).

New Orleans and veteran QB Drew Brees are 6-2 ATS in their last eight games against divisional opponents, as well as 5-0 SU in their last five home playoff games. The total has gone over in six of the Panthers’ last seven games against the Saints. The total has also gone over in five of the Saints’ last six games in the wild card round.

For more info, picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the new OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes, or check it out at OddsShark.libsyn.com.