The "Monday Night Football" nightcap in Week 1 is full of story lines, none more so than the return of running back Adrian Peterson. Let's take a look at some various props for Vikings vs. 49ers.
Over the weekend, I examined a Bovada prop comparing Eddie Lacy, Marshawn Lynch and Adrian Peterson as calculated by their fantasy points performance at Draft Kings. I went with Peterson on that prop but his yardage total hadn't yet been posted at sportsbooks. It has now: 90.5 yards at Bovada, with the 'over' a -130 favorite. I'm feeling pretty good about Peterson beating out Lacy and Lynch. Lacy finished Sunday's win over Chicago with 19 carries for 85 yards and a score. Lynch had 18 carries for 73 yards and didn't score. The Niners were No. 7 against the run last season but lost just about every good player off that defense to retirement, etc.
As good as Peterson might be, the Vikings likely will only go as far as second-year quarterback Teddy Bridgewater takes them. He wasn't just the best rookie quarterback in the NFL by late last season, he was among the best in the league. From Week 13 to Week 17, Bridgewater, the final first-round pick in the 2014 draft, tied for first in the NFL in completion percentage (72.1), second in passer rating (103.0), second in yards per attempt (8.79) and third in TD percentage (5.7). Think the Browns regret passing up on him twice and taking Johnny Manziel instead? Bridgewater has totals of 220.5 yards, 1.5 TD passes, 19.5 completions and .5 interceptions.
Bridgewater has a potential new No. 1 receiver in Mike Wallace. He was acquired along with a 2015 seventh-round draft pick from Miami this offseason for a fifth-round pick. That's a steal. Can Wallace be a knucklehead and locker-room cancer at times? He can, but he also will stretch the field and is one of the best deep threats in the NFL. Last year, Wallace led the Dolphins in receiving yards (862) and touchdowns (10) and was second in receptions (67). The Vikings badly needed playmakers as they completed only 17 passes of 20 yards or more in 2014. Wallace is given totals of four catches and 56 yards.
NFL Free Picks: Go 'OVER' on Peterson. He's going to have a monster game to match the monster chip on his shoulder. Go 'OVER' on Bridgewater yards, completions and picks but 'under' on TD passes. 'OVER' on Wallace catches and yards.
Peterson is a former NFL MVP. It looked like San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick might be a future MVP. At least it did when he took over for Alex Smith as the team's starter in 2012. But after bursting onto the scene that year, Kaepernick has regressed. And now he doesn't have the quarterback whisperer, Jim Harbaugh, as his head coach. So I'm very curious to see how Kaepernick fares this season. He has total of 210.5 passing yards, 1.5 touchdown passes, 18 completions and .5 interceptions. In rushing yards, he's at 34.5.
The Vikings have an up-and-coming defense under second-year head coach Mike Zimmer, the former Cincinnati Bengals defensive coordinator. One of the Defensive Rookie of the Year favorites is linebacker Eric Kendricks. Minnesota ranked 14th in total defense last year and No. 7 against the pass. Kaepernick no longer has Michael Crabtree to throw to but he was replaced by a pretty good receiver in former Raven Torrey Smith.
The 49ers let all-time leading rusher Frank Gore leave for Indianapolis (nearly Philadelphia) this offseason because they were comfortable in young Carlos Hyde as Gore's replacement. Hyde, a second-round pick in 2014 out of Ohio State, rushed 83 times for 333 yards and four touchdowns last year as Gore's backup. He'll have 83 carries this season by Week 4 probably. Although that line lost All-Pro guard Mike Iupati, one of the best run blockers in the league, to free agency and tackle Anthony Davis to an apparent one-year retirement. Hyde is given a rushing total of 62.5 yard for this one.
NFL Free Picks: 'OVER' all on Kaepernick but rushing -- they don't want him running as much to save wear-and-tear. 'OVER' on Hyde yards.