NFL Picks for Vikings vs. Bengals

Jason Lake

Tuesday, December 17, 2013 2:44 PM UTC

Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2013 2:44 PM UTC

Matt Cassel’s used to being overlooked, but that just makes his Minnesota Vikings that much more valuable against the football lines when they visit the Cincinnati Bengals.

Jason’s record on his final NFL picks for 2013, up to December 15 inclusive:

38-31-2 ATS

1-1 ML (+0.71 units)

8-17-1 Totals

Back-up quarterbacks. Back-up quarterbacks, everywhere. Week 15 of the NFL betting season saw 11 reserve QBs get the start for their teams, and there was plenty of drama to go around. Matt Flynn got some sweet, sweet redemption leading the Green Bay Packers to that monster comeback against the Dallas Cowboys. And Matt Cassel earned his second win of the season, throwing for 382 yards in a 48-30 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles (–6.5 away). Not bad for a couple of scrubs.

Don’t look now, but the Vikings (4-9-1 SU, 8-6 ATS) have covered six of their last seven games heading into Sunday’s matchup with the Cincinnati Bengals (9-5 SU, 8-5-1 ATS). Are you willing to bet on a team with multiple injuries and no hope for the playoffs? If so, the Week 16 NFL lines have Minnesota getting seven points on the road with a total of 48.

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Spanish Cassel Magic

I’m a sucker for bargain-bin shopping. If I can buy a decent widget for five bucks, why should I pay 50 bucks for a slightly better model? Matt Cassel is one of the NFL’s many $5 widgets. He’s had some ups and downs in his nine years in the league, but people only remember the down periods. They don’t give Cassel credit for leading the New England Patriots to a 10-win season in 2008 when Tom Brady was injured. And they don’t care to remember when Cassel went to the Pro Bowl after another 10-win season with the Kansas City Chiefs in 2010.

Cassel was relegated to bench duty with the Vikings this season, but with the injuries to Christian Ponder and the failed Josh Freeman Experiment, Cassel’s played in seven games this year and made four starts, splitting them at 2-2 SU and 3-1 ATS. Heading into Week 15, Cassel was No. 20 at his position in passing DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average), one spot ahead of Arizona’s Carson Palmer, and two spots ahead of his opponent this Sunday (1:00 p.m. ET, FOX).

Andy’s Candies

How’s the Andy Dalton Bandwagon doing this week? Not so hot, after Cincinnati lost 30-20 to the Pittsburgh Steelers (+2.5 at home) on Sunday night. Can’t really blame Dalton for that, though. He threw two TD passes and went pick-free, but the Bengals couldn’t get anything going on the ground, and Pittsburgh got a 67-yard punt return from Antonio Brown to open up a 21-0 lead in the first quarter.

That wasn’t the only special-teams nightmare for the Bengals. Punter Kevin Huber was levelled by Pittsburgh’s Terence Garvin, in a play that’s likely to be reviewed by the league, and it looks like Huber will miss the rest of the season after breaking his jaw and suffering a cracked vertebrae. Place-kicker Mike Nugent ended up punting for the rest of the game, and Dalton acted as Nugent’s place-holder on kicks. It’s unclear at press time how Cincinnati will address its punting this week.

AP Style

The Vikings, meanwhile, expect to have both RB Adrian Peterson (4.6 yards per carry) and RB Toby Gerhart (7.9 yards per carry) back in action for Sunday. Both men were held out of the Philadelphia game, and watched as third-string RB Matt Asiata picked up three TDs despite rushing for just 51 yards on 30 carries.

As rough as things have been for the Vikings, they had the No. 9-ranked special teams going into Week 15. Cincinnati’s special teams were ranked No. 6 overall, but Huber was a major part of that success. Major enough that I’m happy to pick the Vikings this week.

NFL Pick: Take the Vikings +7 (+100) at BetUS

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