Minnesota Vikings at Los Angeles Rams (-6.5)
Thu. 9/27, 8:20 p.m. ET
Three things you need to know before betting on Vikings-Rams:
1. The Vikings hit the road after suffering the NFL’s biggest upset in more than two decades. While there aren’t many positives to take away from a team getting manhandled the way Minnesota did in its 27-6 loss as a 17-point home favorite against the Bills on Sunday, the Vikings were at least able to hold Buffalo scoreless over the game’s final 36 minutes. All six of the Bills’ final drives ended in punts, with half of those being three-and-outs. The early deficit (24-0 in the first 18 minutes) led to Minnesota’s offense being one-dimensional, as the Vikings finished the game with 55 passing attempts and only six rushing attempts while starting running back Dalvin Cook watched from the sidelines with a hamstring injury. Cook is expected to be active against the Rams, and Minnesota has shown a knack for bouncing back under head coach Mike Zimmer, going 17-6 against the spread when coming off a loss since Zimmer took over as head coach prior to the 2014 season. The Vikings' three losses in the 2017 regular season were each followed by a victory, and by a combined score of 88 to 41.
2. The Vikings have dominated this series in recent years, winning and covering the spread in five straight meetings with the Rams by a total score of 153 to 63, which is an average score of 31 to 13. Three of those Minnesota victories came on the road, and each was a win by 14 or more points. When the teams met with identical 7-2 records in Minneapolis last November, L.A. scored on its opening drive before failing to put up any more points for the remainder of a 24-7 loss. The final eight drives for the Rams, who entered the game as the NFL's highest-scoring offense, resulted in six punts, a lost fumble and a turnover on downs. On the other side of the ball, Minnesota's offensive line dominated Los Angeles, opening up holes for 171 rushing yards on 4.9 yards per carry and preventing quarterback Case Keenum from being sacked despite throwing the ball 38 times. Minnesota balanced that passing attack with 35 rushes to chew up 37:22 of possession time.
3. Although the Rams enter this game with a 14-6 straight-up record (including playoffs) since the start of last season, they entered this season with a 4-10-1 record against the spread at home since having moved back to Los Angeles prior to the start of the 2016 season. Minnesota is 15-5-1 straight up since the start of last season, which includes a 6-3-1 straight-up record in road games. The Vikings’ 20-9 record against the spread as an underdog under Zimmer includes a 10-4 ATS mark as a road underdog. And when facing opponents that average 260 or more passing yards per game, Minnesota has gone 12-3 against the spread under Zimmer, holding opposing offenses to an average of fewer than 20 points per game over those 15 contests.
Pick: Vikings +6.5
Confidence Level: High (on a scale of Low/Moderate/High/Very High/Extremely High)