We are two days away from NFL kickoff with the opening matchup set for Thursday night between the Buffalo Bills and Super Bowl champions Los Angeles Rams. There have been so many changes this offseason with so many teams, either with coaching or quarterbacks. Within the 32 teams in the league, 20 have seen a personnel change with a new head coach, offensive coordinator or defensive coordinator. Seven teams have a new coach in all three positions, including the Minnesota Vikings. Mike Zimmer may be gone, but potentially there is one constant that can be utilized for betting purposes this season ... the Minnesota home record.
Vikings' success at home
Since 2016, Minnesota has a 32-17 (65%) win/loss record at home. That’s the second-best home record in the NFC North, behind the Green Bay Packers, and the seventh-best home record in the NFL during that span. Now, let’s eliminate the 2020 season because of the pandemic. The Vikings hold a 29-12 (70.7%) win/loss record, including a 25-15-1 ATS record. The trend that has me most interested: The Vikings are 7-2 ATS as a home underdog.
Minnesota is projected to be a home underdog in three games, including Week 1 against the Aaron Rogers-led offense, minus Davante Adams (now with the Raiders). The other two games the Vikings are expected to be home underdogs are Week 11 against the Cowboys and Week 15 against the Colts.
Why to continue to back the Vikings at home
Mike Zimmer is gone. Being a sports bettor backing the Vikings with a defensive-minded head coach calling plays is probably one of the most tilting things you can do as a bettor during the NFL season. Choosing rushing plays, playing to not lose instead of playing to win when you have an offensive duo with Cousins and Justin Jefferson was less than ideal. Jefferson had 88 catches for 1,400 yards and scored seven touchdowns in 16 games during his rookie season in 2020. He then followed that up with 1,616 receiving yards and 10 touchdown scores last year. He had back-to-back great seasons despite having Zimmer as a head coach. Now, the Vikings offense will have a Rams-styled offense with Kevin O’Connell (former Rams offensive coordinator) and OC Wes Philips (former Rams TE coach).
The playbook will open up. To move from Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp to now Cousins and Jefferson, the potential for a high ceiling with this offense is there. I’ll be looking to the over receiving yards and longest reception for Jefferson often.
With a capable quarterback in Cousins, a new head coach and offensive coordinator, Jefferson has a shot at 2,000 receiving yards. It won’t be an easy schedule as the Vikings offense is expected to play one of the tougher schedules of opposing passing defenses (second toughest), but with new parts in personnel, it’s not outside the realm of possibilities.
Backing the Vikings +1.5 in Week 1 against the Packers
So now, here we are in Week 1. The Vikings are playing at home. The Vikings are playing at home as home underdogs. Fire away? Fire away. In the last three seasons, the Packers are 15-10 ATS as an away team, 7-7 ATS as an away favorite. Rodgers no longer has Adams, who flamed Zimmer and his defense for years. Adams had eight touchdowns against the Vikings in his last four games.
There are certainly some question marks with Minnesota at the offensive line position and the defense but now is as good of a time as any to back a team (+1.5) with a great home record, playing at home against a team that doesn’t travel well and is now without a key part of its offense.