When it comes to covering the spread recently, the NFL is broken up into two groups: 1. The Minnesota Vikings and, 2. Everybody else.
Not only are the Vikings the only undefeated team ATS (against the spread) this season at 5-0, they are doing it after a season in which they led the NFL for bettors. Minnesota went 13-3-1 ATS last year, one victory against the spread more than the Cincinnati Bengals.
That makes a record of 18-3-1 against the spread going back to the start of last season (85 percent). The Pittsburgh Steelers are a distant second-best over that period at 13-7-1 against the spread (65 percent).
Only the Seattle Seahawks are better than the Vikings over the last five years (plus 2016) at 52-30-2 ATS (vs. 51-31-3 ATS for the Vikes).
And still, Minnesota is undervalued.
The Vikings have been underdogs in two of their five games so far, including a home dog once (Sept. 18 vs. Green Bay). Last week they saw their biggest spread of the season as 6-point faves at home against Houston and that number looked laughable in a 31-13 crushing.
So it seems a little strange to me that Minnesota is slated as an early 1-point underdog at Philadelphia in Week 7 following a bye this week.
It's strange because the Vikings have one of the most feared defenses we’ve seen in recent seasons, right up there with Denver’s defense last year.
Minnesota’s D ranks first in points against per game (12.6), tied for first in fumble recoveries (5), tied for first in sacks (19), second in interceptions (7), tied for third in pass deflections (33) and fourth in total yards per game (287.6).
Add it up and what do you get? A team that’s not even favored to win its division.
The Packers are -125 to win the NFC North while the Vikings sit at even money.
I guess Minnesota’s new quarterback doesn’t have bettors convinced just yet. Sam Bradford owns a 70.4 completion percentage – the highest of any QB with over 100 attempts so far. He also has six touchdown passes and zero interceptions and a QB rating that ranks behind only Matt Ryan’s among those who have played more than one game.
For many, Bradford’s three games with Minnesota just isn’t a big enough sample size. But this is also where betting value is found – before the public buys in.
The Vikings have dropped to 9-1 to win the Super Bowl after Sportsbook at 20-1. I have to wonder, though, if the number wouldn’t provide a much smaller payout if a higher-profile team were having a season like Minnesota’s – say, the Patriots or Packers or Cowboys.
The Seahawks, Pats, Packers and Steelers are all favored ahead of Minnesota to win the Super Bowl. All four of those are also favored to win their divisions by minus-money.
I don’t think there’s any value left in any of those teams but I’m not sure we can say the same about the Vikings. If you think the same, my guess is this number won’t get any better for the rest of the season.
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