• The Vikings are on a three-game winless streak, but Minnesota QB Kirk Cousins has an impressive record against the spread versus the Eagles.
By Scott Gramling
October 03, 2018

Minnesota Vikings at Philadelphia Eagles (-3)

Sun. 10/7, 4:25 p.m. ET

Five things you need to know before betting on Vikings-Eagles:

1. The Vikings look to end a three-game winless skid when they visit an Eagles team coming off a 26-23 overtime loss in Tennessee on Sunday. Philadelphia squandered a 17-3 lead with less than 18 minutes remaining in regulation in that contest. Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota completed 30 of 43 pass attempts with a pair of touchdowns, including the game-winner to wideout Corey Davis. It marked the third straight game the Eagles failed to cover as a favorite, following a Week 2 road loss to Tampa Bay and an underwhelming four-point home win against Indianapolis. Minnesota gets the additional rest coming into this one after suffering a 38-31 loss as a seven-point road underdog against the Rams last Thursday.

2. Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins is familiar with the Eagles and Lincoln Financial Field from the time he spent as Washington’s starter. He has completed 68% of his pass attempts for an average of 332 yards per game with 12 touchdowns and only three interceptions while going 3-1 against the spread in Philadelphia. Cousins, who is coming off an impressive performance with 422 passing yards and three touchdowns against a tough Rams defense, is 5-2 against the spread and 4-3 straight up in seven career starts versus the Eagles.

NFL Week 5 Expert Best Bets: Chiefs Could Be in Trouble on Short Week

3. Last season Minnesota was the only NFL team to allow fewer than 16 points per game and the only squad to allow fewer than 280 total yards per contest. Through four games this season, those numbers have risen dramatically to 27.5 points and 381.5 yards per game. That’s despite the fact that one of the Vikings’ four games has come against Buffalo, which scored 27 points in a win in Minnesota and only 23 points over its other three games combined. (Arizona, with 37 points over four games, is the only NFL team besides Buffalo that’s averaging fewer than 13 points per game in 2018.)

4. A big reason for Minnesota’s struggles on defense has been a lack of takeaways. After forcing four turnovers in a season-opening victory over San Francisco, the Vikings defense has failed to force a single turnover in any of its last three contests, which include a tie at Green Bay in addition to losses to the Bills and Rams. Because most turnover droughts tend to not last much longer than this, a case could be made that there’s value to be found in Minnesota. In games where the spread is between +3 and -3 since the start of the 2014 season, teams with defenses that are forcing an average of one or fewer turnovers per game are 13-2 against the spread when coming off back-to-back games with a negative turnover margin. Over that same timeframe, the Vikings are 5-1-1 against any point spread when coming off back-to-back games with a negative turnover margin.

5. While the Eagles are 0-7 against the spread under head coach Doug Pederson when facing a team that’s allowing an average of at least six yards per play, Minnesota is 16-6-1 against the spread under Zimmer against teams with offenses that average at least 350 total yards per game. Among other positive trends under Zimmer are Minnesota’s 20-9-1 ATS record as an underdog (which includes a 14-7-1 ATS mark as a road underdog), and a 17-8-1 ATS mark when coming off a loss (which includes a 12-4 ATS record when coming off a road loss).

Pick: Minnesota +3

Confidence Level: High (on a scale of Low/Moderate/High/Very High/Extremely High)