Tennessee Titans vs. Minnesota Vikings Predictions

Minnesota Vikings Team Players Celebrating Touchdown

Sunday, September 11, 2016 1:54 PM GMT

If mums the word on the starting quarterback for Minnesota Vikings how do NFL bettors bet their opener at Nissan Stadium in Tennessee? We serve up our thoughts and NFL picks in this space.

Minnesota Vikings Sans Teddy Bridgewater
Teddy Bridgewater led the Minnesota Vikings to the NFC North title last season behind a 11-5 SU record. How the story unfolded in the postseason everybody and his grandmother knows: a botched field goal eliminated the Vikings in the wildcard round (l. to Seattle Seahawks).

The Vikings reached the division title playing balanced football, nothing too flashy from their quarterback and no nonsense and efficient play all around, from good defense and running the football – all of which was encompassed with an average of 22.81 points scored and 18.88 points conceded.

Most illuminating of all: Teddy Bridgewater’s stats on the season. He ranked 22nd in the offensive leaders chart with rather middling numbers in key categories – although he put up 3,231 yards (7.23 yards per pass attempt) and an average of 202 yards per game for a decent 88.7 passer rating, he only had 14 touchdowns along with 9 interceptions. He was also the sixth most sacked quarterback with 44 to his credit.

By those stats, it’s clear the Vikings’ success didn’t depend on Bridgewater’s ability to litter the stats sheets with meaningful yards and copious touchdowns. Rather a solid system in play was responsible for a lot of what they accomplished. It follows, therefore, the loss of Bridgewater might not be so catastrophic. Unfortunate, of course. But not a season-ender as it proved to be for say Dallas Cowboys last season when they lost Tony Romo in week 2.

One can’t compare Bridgewater’s contribution to the team to the likes of Tony Romo, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson…and so on. Franchise quarterbacks that perennially litter the stat sheets. That are sure-fire game-changers and synonymous with a team’s success and the loss of which would be the difference between a winning and losing the campaign.

To inject another quarterback is never a seamless matter but, in this case, where a well-honed system and a solid team ethos are involved, it might not be such a challenge. For that matter, how much of a difference will it really be if backup Shaun Hill or newly acquired Sam Bradford starts on Sunday at the Nissan Stadium?

Aside for the obvious difference – one is a veteran journeyman that knows the playbook and the other is a former No.1 draft pick. As far as the NFL betting markets are concerned bookies don’t appear to be fazed much about the developments in Minnesota or the quarterback dilemma. Sure, this week 1 clash was taken off the board immediately following the injury to Bridgewater. However, bookies posted it back up within a reasonable amount of time and, lo and behold, the Vikings remain short road favourites.

Early NFL betting lines (in April) opened the Vikings as the -2 road favourites before the NFL line was bet up to -3 by early August with the juice hovering rather favourably anywhere from -115 to -120 in some cases. When bookies came back with reassessed lines after Bridgewater’s injury the Vikings opened as the -1.5 road favourites but moved up to -2 – on the strength of the pairing of Bradford and Hill, presumably. Although no word from Zimmer yet as to which quarterback will start. (Zimmer is playing his cards close and enjoying the headache his Titans counterpart Mike Mularkey is probably enduring while having to game plan for two different quarterbacks.)

Put it this way, even without Bridgewater in the last game of the preseason the Vikings completed a 4-0 SU record for the second time under Mike Zimmer in three years. They did it with their trademark football – defense and running the ball.

 

Vikings vs. Titans Betting Verdict
Now, it’s worth pointing out that consensus betting polls with SBR paint a curious picture. Lopsided springs to mind.

At the time of writing, the Vikings have the slight edge with 50.10% of bets wagered (this includes all manner of bets from straight up, spread and parlay betting and more). However, the money is all in with the Titans to the incredible tune of 96.97%, highlighted by some large bets coming down the wire. Clearly, not only does the betting public love the Titans but also sharp money and wise guys, which effectively pits these groups against each other on the sports betting floor.

We might reasonably infer that what they all have in common is the perception of doom for a Bridgewater-less Vikings and nobody wants to buy a piece of them as a result.

The offseason has been productive for the Titans and some of the acquisitions they’ve made do signal intent. Acquiring Demarco Murray for instance. For all these improvements, we are still talking about a second-year quarterback lead a team under new coach Mike Mularkey and a crop of young players, many of whom were part of the 2015 instalment that finished 3-13 SU with a -7.8 losing margin on average and a -4.4 differential versus the spread. Another thing to keep in mind, they also finished 4-11-1 ATS on the season.

Good teams win games, great teams cover as the old adage goes. According to the public betting trends, it seems the Titans, who were neither a good or great team last season, somehow have enjoyed a complete and utter turnaround without having to substantiate it with anything tangible. How come?

Yea, we’re straying away from public opinion. Feeling a bit contrarian, if you will. Call it a preferred NFL betting strategy: avoid the obvious. If everyone sees something it’s more likely than not the opposite will happen.

Of course, the pressure on Vikings’ defense and run game is going to be greater than it was ever before in week 1, and they’ll be looking to Adrian Peterson more than ever to account for a lot of the offense on the field. But that plan did work last season and delivered an 11-win season, so it’s reasonable to assume they could enjoy a measure of success using the same formula with a different quarterback. As such, we do still like the Vikings as the short road favourites.

NFL Free Picks: Vikings -2.5 (-115) 

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