It’s a rematch of last January’s NFC Championship game when Minnesota travels to Philadelphia on Sunday afternoon. Both teams enter the game looking to jump their seasons after an underwhelming start. The Vikings enter having lost two-straight, which is a spot they’ve excelled in ATS under Mike Zimmer, posting a 6-2 record. The Eagles start, meanwhile, can be viewed one of two ways: Last week, they were a 4th-and-15 overtime stop away from improving to 3-1, but are also only a pair of late fourth quarter conversions by the Falcons and Colts away from a winless September. The Eagles will be happy to get back in front of the crowd at Lincoln Financial Field where they are 17-3 at home and 14-6 ATS, including the postseason, under Doug Pederson.
Also of note, the Eagles are 8-1 both straight-up and ATS against the Vikings at home since 1989. The lone loss came back on a Tuesday night in December of 2010 when a blizzard postponed the game two days. Little-known Joe Webb led a stunning Vikings upset as a 14-point underdog which cost the Eagles a first-round bye that season.
Vikings at Eagles (-3), Over/Under
The first thing that jumps out when studying this game is just how different the Vikings are on the offensive side of the football. Known as a team that wanted to pound the ball and beat opponents with their defense last season, Minnesota, frankly, hasn’t even tried to run the ball this season. Notably, the Vikings don’t have a single runner with 100 total rushing yards through four games. As a team, they are averaging only 3.5 yards per carry and a league-worst 63 rushing yards per game. Under Jim Schwartz, the Eagles are 5-1 against opponents averaging under 75 rushing yards per game, and 4-2 against the spread.
Making matters worse for the Vikings is that, Dalvin Cook, by far the team’s most dynamic back, is still battling a hamstring injury. He didn’t practice on Thursday and is officially listed as questionable. I wouldn’t expect the ground game to get, uh, off the ground this week, either.
The Eagles defense comes in having allowed an NFL-best 63.8 rushing yards per game and only 255 total ground yards. The Vikings may want to get the running game going in order to take some pressure off a suddenly struggling Eagles secondary, but I wouldn’t count on it happening.
What I would count on, however, is Minnesota offensive coordinator John DeFilippo scheming ways for quarterback Kirk Cousins, who is a lifetime 5-2 ATS against Philadelphia, to exploit what has been a disastrous Eagles secondary. Cornerback Jalen Mills, a consistent target of ire for Eagles fans this season, is among league leaders in both penalties and penalties yardage, and has also given up a handful of big plays. But the secondary concerns extend beyond Mills as Corey Graham struggled a week ago in place of the injured Rodney McLeod. Starting corner Ronald Darby has also been up and down.
Adam Theilen and Stefon Diggs, who are on pace to combine for 268 catches and 3,136 yards through four weeks, should be keeping defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz up at night this week. In order to limit the Vikings’ passing game, the Eagles highly-regarded front four needs to have its best game of the season to date. The home crowd should help. The Philadelphia defense has surrendered only 12.67 points per contest over its past 12 games at home since the start of the 2017 season. It probably shouldn’t come as a surprise that six of the last seven games played at The Linc have stayed under the total.
The Eagles should be encouraged by the progress of quarterback Carson Wentz, who is 12-7 ATS when his team is favored and 11-4 ATS at home, after he threw for 348 yards and two touchdowns a week ago. Wentz and the Eagles offense left some big plays on the field against the Titans, but it will have an opportunity to make amends against a Minnesota defense allowing 278 passing yards per game.
Gambling trends: As of late Thursday night, the volume of bets was a 51/50 split with 55% of the money coming in on Minnesota. While the consensus line of Eagles -3 has held steady throughout the week, the over/under has climbed from 44.5 to 46.5 at most sportsbooks. That’s a fairly considerable move. Meanwhile, a preposterous 93% of the total money is currently on the over. You can get some value at FanDuel Sportsbook, which currently has that 46.5 total compared to 46 at SugarHouse Sportsbook and DraftKings.
Trends to know: The Eagles are 7-2 against the Vikings straight-up and ATS since 2001. A rather remarkable trend that I came across is that betting the over while Doug Pederson is the home coach has cashed in only 6 of 20 games. Conversely, it has hit on 15 of 19 games when he is the visiting coach. While the over was only 2-6 in Eagles home games during the 2016 season when its offense was decidedly inferior, it’s worth noting that over plays have still gone only 4-8 since the start of the 2017 season. What’s more, the bets on the over when Mike Zimmer is the visiting coach are only 14-20-1 dating back to the start of the 2014 season.
Prediction: I see a good day for Wentz and the Philadelphia offense. Moreover, I don’t expect Minnesota to run the ball with much effectiveness or frequency. This game feels like it should shape up to easily exceed a relatively modest 46.5 total, but the aforementioned trends are almost impossible to ignore. Over bets have hit only 30% of time in games Pederson has coached at Lincoln Financial Field, and they cash only 41% of the time when Zimmer is on the road. I also like to bet against where the money is, and it is most certainly on the over right now, so as a contrarian play and with the two points of value created by the upward mid-week line movement, I’m on the under here.
If you’re looking to throw down in New Jersey, as I mentioned, FanDuel has the better over-under and they are currently running some cool late-game blown lead promos for football and baseball that are worth checking out. And we also like SugarHouse thanks to their $250 deposit bonus: