The Minnesota Vikings are everyone's favorite Week 1 NFL pick, and it's not even close. That's how miserable things have become for the once-great San Francisco 49ers.
You know what would be hilarious? If the San Francisco 49ers actually won Super Bowl 50 this year. Not only would they pay out as high as +10000 on the futures market, the Niners would also make people like me eat our words about how awful this team has become. It could happen.
Meanwhile, the 49ers have fallen so far in the eyes of bettors, they might already be a solid “buy low” football pick for their Monday Night Football matchup (10:15 p.m. ET, ESPN) with the Minnesota Vikings. Back in the spring, San Francisco opened as a 4-point home chalk, but as we go to press, the Vikings are 2.5-point faves on our football odds board, with two-thirds of bettors feeling Minnesota.
The gap between the two sides becomes a canyon when you look at our expanded consensus figures. The Vikings are absolutely crushing it in terms of raw dollars, hoovering up 95 percent of the action with an average bet size of $935. That's over 10 times the size of the average wager on San Francisco ($88). It's difficult to interpret this as anything other than smart money.
Have the NFL odds moved too far, though? That's also difficult to interpret. Aside from the preseason, which admittedly didn't look very good for the Niners (2-2 SU, 1-3 ATS), we don't have much data to work with as the Jim Tomsula-Colin Kaepernick Era attempts lift-off. We do know that Tomsula's predecessor, Jim Harbaugh, was one of the top moneymakers in NFL coaching history at 40-29-1 ATS during his four years at the helm, regular season and playoffs combined. That's a tough act to follow.
We also know that the Niners have lost a ton of player talent along with their coach. Some left as free agents (RB Frank Gore, WR Michael Crabtree). Some were released (LB Aldon Smith, WR Stevie Johnson). And some opted for early retirement (LB Patrick Willis, LB Chris Borland). What's left is a dog soup of retreads and rookies, with Kaepernick trying to regain the form that made him such a hot commodity in 2012.
On the other side, the Vikings appear to be on the rise in Year Two of the Mike Zimmer-Teddy Bridgewater Era. But there are plenty of unknowns here, too. Does RB Adrian Peterson still have what it takes at age 30? Can Bridgewater avoid the dreaded sophomore slump? And more specifically for Week 1, will center John Sullivan be able to play after missing Tuesday's practice with back spasms? With gigantic RT Phil Loadholt already lost for the season to a torn Achilles' tendon, this Viking ship might not even make it out of drydock. We'll take another look at that offensive line later this week with our NFL picks against the spread and total.