In The Bettors Corner: Minnesota Vikings

It is no secret what went wrong in Minnesota in 2020. A Defense that could not stop anyone and often caused the Minnesota offense to play catch up in most games. Head coach Mike Zimmer is a defensive-minded coach; if there ever was one, the Vikings had ranked in the top four of the NFL from 2016-2018, they slipped to 14th in 2019, and maybe that was a sign of things to come because the bottom fell out in 2020. They ranked 27th in total defense while giving up 134 yards on the ground (27th) and giving up 29.7 points a game(29th). As a result, the Vikings went 7-9 and missed the playoffs.

A number of things contributed to the demise of the defense. Linebackers Anthony Barr and Eric Hendricks missed most of the season due to injuries, defensive end Danielle Hunter missed all of last season with a neck injury, and defensive tackle Michael Pierce opted out due to Covid 19. And after losing their top three cornerbacks from 2019, including Xavier Rhodes, the secondary was very young and ranked 25th in passing yards allowed (258.8). So it is no surprise the attention that the Vikings showed to the defensive side of the ball during the off-season. They signed veterans Patrick Peterson and Bashaud Breeland to join All-Pro safety Harrison Barnes to strengthen the secondary and Dalvin Tomlinson to help upfront to stop the run and get pressure on the quarterback where the Vikings had only 23 sacks (28th). It's hard to see a Mike Zimmer defense be as bad as it was for two straight seasons. They can only improve; they can't get much worse.

The offense led by Kirk Cousins, who threw for 4,265 and 35 touchdowns, ranked fourth in the NFL. They ranked fifth in rushing with 142. 7 yards a game on the ground. They were led by Dalvin Cook with 1,557 yards and 16 touchdowns. Rookie sensation Justin Jefferson had 88 catches for 1,400 yards and 7 touchdowns. Minnesota averaged 26.9 points a game. With the 23rd pick in the draft, they drafted Virginia Tech offensive lineman Christian Darrisaw and in the third round guard Wyatt Davis from Ohio State. Both of these players will compete for a starting job. Cousins was sacked 39 times in 2020.

Minnesota opens their season with two road games ( Cincinnati, Arizona). They play four of the next five games at home, including Seattle and Cleveland in back-to-back weeks. Their bye is week 7, and the extra game is at the Los Angeles Chargers on November 7th. They play seven playoff teams from 2020, Packers and Bears twice in their division. They play the only division to have three teams make the playoffs in 2020, the AFC North. November has them on the road three times, with the only home game being against the Packers. They don't play Chicago until December 20th on Monday night football. Detroit twice and at Cincinnati and Carolina seem to be the only games where Minnesota will be favored to win. Minnesota will have an improved defense just by getting people back healthy; Zimmer will have his hands in things more than ever. Cousins, Cook, and company will put up points, and having fans back in US Bank Stadium will be a huge advantage as the Vikings have one of the toughest places for road teams to play. That being said, the schedule is brutal. Arizona, Seattle, and Cleveland all before their bye week. And at Chicago and Green Bay sandwiched with home games against Pittsburgh and the Los Angeles Rams in late December may be too much to overcome. I am a Mike Zimmer supporter, but it was difficult to back him at times last year; it almost seemed like he lost the locker room at times.

The win total is nine, so ten wins are needed. They will be on either side of 8-9 or 9-8; neither will be enough to cash a ticket with an over bet.

Minnesota Vikings under 9.

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