The Buffalo Bills face the league’s biggest point spread of this young season, traveling to Minnesota as 16.5-point underdogs. The Vikings are considered one of the league’s truly elite teams, with a dynamic offense and a stalwart defense, so a spread of more than two touchdowns (and a point total Sportsbook at 40.5) may still be a bit generous to Buffalo.
MY PICK FOR THIS GAME: TAKE THE OVER
As you already know, the Vikings are very good, while the Bills are very, very, very not good.
Their first road game was a 44-point loss against the Baltimore Ravens. They followed that by hosting the Los Angeles Chargers, and while they only lost by 11, they trailed 28-6 at halftime and were never truly in the game. They’re tied for the most points given up in the league (78 through two games), while they have the second-fewest points and yards. Rookie QB Josh Allen was an improvement over Nathan Peterman, but he is still a raw prospect and their only playmaker, veteran RB LeSean McCoy, is dealing with a rib injury.
Minnesota, on the other hand, enters this game as a team with Super Bowl aspirations. Having stumbled in the NFC championship game last year, the Vikes upgraded their QB, letting Case Keenum go and signing Kirk Cousins to a three-year, $84-million contract. He’s responded with six touchdowns and one interception through two games, including 425 yards in Week 2 as Minnesota came back to force a tie against the Green Bay Packers.
The Vikings defense allowed the fewest yards and points against in 2017. Much of the same unit has returned for 2018, and while they’re currently in the middle of the pack, they faced Aaron Rodgers and a much-improved San Francisco club, so a matchup with Buffalo may be just what they need to get back on track.
It would take a miracle for Buffalo to outright win this game; the Bills are 0-17 SU in their last 17 games as double-digit underdogs, and this is one of their worst rosters in a long time. Expecting Minnesota to cover 16.5 points is definitely doable, but it’s a lot to ask. Minnesota’s offense is clicking, so if Buffalo can manage even 10 points, we’re looking at the OVER against a total of 40.5. Then again, the Vikings could hit that total by themselves.
THIELEN AND DIGGS: ONE of THE NFL’S BEST WR DUOS?
Minnesota upgraded at QB with Cousins, and they have a dynamic talent in RB Dalvin Cook. But they just might have the league’s best wide receiver duo in Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen.
Diggs, entering his fourth season, has three touchdowns in two games and is a dangerous deep threat (as shown by his 75-yard score against the Packers). All Thielen did Sunday was catch 12 of 13 targets for 131 yards and a heroic fourth-quarter touchdown. He’s now gone three straight regular-season games with 100-plus receiving yards, and is quickly establishing himself as Cousins’ preferred target.
Currently second among WR duos with 404 yards, Diggs and Thielen are likely in for a big day against a defense that has yielded the second-most passing TDs in the league and is one of four without an interception.
YOU KNOW IT’S BAD WHEN…
“Never have seen it ever — Pop Warner, high school, college, pros — never heard of it, never seen it. It’s just completely disrespectful to his teammates.”
That was Buffalo linebacker Lorenzo Alexander, commenting on (former) teammate Vontae Davis … who retired during halftime of their Week 2 loss.
The veteran CB decided he was done with his career, and did not come out for the second half. It brings a whole new meaning to quitting on a team, and is a bad indicator of the state of the locker room in Buffalo. For something like this to happen to a young team this early in the season, it can either serve as a wake-up call, or a sign of things to come.