Both the Vikings and Texans come into their week 4 contest 0-3 SU on the season. Which team offers the best value for NFL picks to finally crack the win column?
Minnesota Vikings (0-3-0) vs. Houston Texans (0-0-3)
Sunday, October 4, 2020, 1:00 PM ET— NRG Stadium, Houston
Minnesota Vikings At The Disadvantage
It’s not been the start most imagined the Minnesota Vikings, who made the playoffs last season and advanced into the NFC Divisional round, would enjoy. However, the Vikings will be keen to get their season back on track when they descend on the winless Houston Texans at NRG Stadium.
The Minnesota Vikings opened the season with a disappointing 43-34 loss to the Green Bay Packers, a game in which they were thoroughly outplayed and outmuscled. Things went downhill from there onwards as the Vikings lost to the Colts 28-11 and then to the Titans 31-30.
Against the Colts, the Vikings arguably played their worst game of the season. Well, Kirk Cousins did. He was rendered pointless in the defeat – going 11 of 26 for 113 yards, 0 TDs and 3 INTs. With Cousins misfiring something awful, the Vikings offense was ineffective and gifting two pick-sixes to the Colts just did them in.
Against the Titans, the Vikings enjoyed their best game of the season, but it still didn’t pass muster and they still walked away winless, after Stephen Gostowski saved the day for Tennessee with a game-winning field goal.
Cousins, once again, had his fair share of trouble against a stout defense. He went 16 of 27 for 251 yards, 3TDs and 2 INT. Overall, Cousins has 623 passing yards on the season, 5 TDs, 6 INT and 7 sacks for a passer rating of 73.8. The TD:INT ratio is one of the biggest concerns for Mike Zimmer and Gary Kubiak because those kind of stats won’t deliver positive results.
To add to the Vikings’ challenges on the season, following their game with the Titans, news broke that several players and staff from Tennessee’s camp had tested positive for Covid-19. It marked the first instance of a coronavirus outbreak during the 2020 NFL season, something that the league anticipated was always going to be a possibility, and it resulted in the postponement of the Steelers vs. Titans game.
For a while, the clash between the Vikings and Texans did hang in the balance, but test results thus far for Minnesota have all come back negative. For the time being, it does look like the game will go on at NRG Stadium. On the downside, the distraction meant that the Vikings lost some valuable practice time this week as they were forced to isolate while the health protocol was in place.
To say the timing isn’t ideal is an understatement. The Vikings can’t seem to catch a break, never mind buy a win no matter how hard they try. The upshot of this is that the Vikings are at the disadvantage, literally and figuratively.
Bookmakers opened the game with the Vikings catching 3.5 points, but since market floors began trading on week 4 NFL games, the NFL line was bet up. As it is, the Vikings are now priced anywhere between +4 and +5 against the spread.
By the stats, the Vikings are 0-3-0 SU and 1-2-0 ATS, a run of form that includes a 9-point losing margin on average and a -7.2 differential versus the spread. The first two games were complete blowouts, only the last game saw the Vikings look remotely competitive against an opponent.
Texans In Dire Straits
The Houston Texans, who are the defending AFC South champions, are off to a disappointing start to the season, down 0-3 SU and sat in the basement of their division. Bill O’Brien and the players have cited a tough NFL schedule as the root cause of the problem – a tough stretch right out of the gates that included dates against the Chiefs, Ravens and Steelers, in succession is a tough stretch. However, it’s fair to say, that the Texans never looked competitive in any of their games.
Both the Chiefs and Ravens left the Texans completely and utterly shellshocked in blowout defeats – the Texans lost 34-20 to the Chiefs and 33-16 to the Ravens. Against the Steelers, the Texans did enjoy a bright start before the Steelers defense steamrolled Deshaun Watson and Co. and muscled their way to the 28-21 victory.
One of the main concerns for the Texans is their inability to protect their pricey quarterback. After signing a massive contract, they’ve sent the poor kid out onto the field with little to no protection. After Joe Burrow, Deshaun Watson is the most sacked quarterback in the league with 13 to his credit.
Watson isn’t cutting the mustard with his stats: 792 passing yards, 4TDs, 3 INT and 13 sacks for a 93.8 passer rating. Houston’s offense as a result is one of the least effective in the league, ranking fifth-worst in the field and averaging just 19 points per game. The defense is also struggling and allowing just shy of 30 points per game.
Overall, the Texans are amongst the worst performers against the spread through the first three weeks of the season. NFL bettors have had no joy backing Houston on their NFL picks. They are 3-0-0 SU and ATS on the season, which includes a 12.7 losing margin on average (third worst in the league) and a -5.8 differential versus the spread.
NFL Betting Verdict
Both the Texans and Vikings are desperate to turn things around and face many challenges in that regard. The issues are across the board, from offensive failures that put the defense in bad situations to defensive failures and weaknesses in the secondary that put the offensive in difficulty. It’s a vicious cycle, like a hamster in a wheel, it goes round and round.
Given all the challenges presented to both outfits, this game is a right tossup for NFL picks. It really could go either way, as neither team strikes a convincing pose on the NFL odds board. However, if there were one thing that would tip the balance in favour of the hosts, it’s the fact that the Vikings may arrive a little underprepared after experiencing the Covid-19 scare.
Put it this way, if the Texans don’t capitalise on both home advantage and a full week of uninterrupted training, then they’re a lot worse than most NFL experts have them down, and, even more importantly, they won’t be able to use a tough NFL schedule as an excuse for their shortcomings in 2020 anymore.
NFL Picks: Texans -4 (115) with Bovada