The NFL odds makers had the right favorites last night but what did we learn and how can we use that knowledge going forward? Let’s discuss.
The Vikings have a reputation for a strong defense and a serviceable offense which made this game against the Saints, noted for a juggernaut passing attack, a rather difficult game to handicap. The NFL odds reflected as much, installing Minnesota as the favorite due to nothing more than the standard three-points given for home field advantage. Well the Vikings’ defense was perhaps better than advertised, containing Drew Brees and the Saints to just 19 points, while Sam Bradford shredded the New Orleans’ defense with 346 yards through the air and three touchdowns completions en route to a 29-19 Minnesota victory.
The only real question mark coming into this game was how much better would the woeful Saints’ defense be after ranking 31st in points allowed in 2016 and retooling in the offseason? Apparently all that tinkering did little to improve New Orleans defensively. Or was Bradford simply that good that he will finally live up to his vast potential after being selected first overall in the 2010 draft, assuming he stays injury-free. It is most likely a combination of both as the Saints will have to go a long way towards replicating their defensive deficiencies from a season ago and Bradford will face sterner tests going forward. If these teams were stocks then Minnesota would be a buy while the Saints would be a pass until we see if indeed their defense can give their offense a chance at winning.
Broncos Survive Late Chargers’ Rally
If you want a reason to have multiple outs when going line shopping then this was a perfect example. There were offshore shops dealing Denver at -3 and -3 ½ which was the difference between a win and a push if you backed the Chargers in your NFL picks on Monday night which saw the Broncos claim a 24-21 victory. Laying bad numbers will eventually yield negative results so if you were square enough to lay the hook on Denver, you unfortunately got what you deserved.
The Denver offense did a workmanlike job of building a 24-7 lead heading into the fourth quarter while their defense lived up to its billing and held Los Angeles’ (I almost typed San Diego) QB Phillip Rivers to just 115 yards passing until the final stanza. The Chargers were 1-155 in their franchise history when trailing by 17 or more in the fourth quarter as opposed to Denver that had a 175-0-1 with a fourth-quarter lead of 17 or greater. History was almost made until the Broncos blocked a last second field goal attempt from 44 yards out.
The takeaway from this game is that the Broncos will once again boast an upper echelon defense with two All-Pros at the corners in Aqib Talib and Chris Harris Jr. and exerting enough pressure from the interior line to hurry a top signal-caller like Phillip Rivers. On the flipside, LA demonstrated resilience and enough offensive firepower to put 21 points on the board on one of the toughest defenses in the league and in one of the most hostile environments.