The resurgent Vikings have won and covered three in a row behind a red-hot Cousins, who left Washington to sign with Minnesota as a free agent following the 2017 season. From the opening kickoff to the final whistle, we break down the best ways to wager this NFC clash.
WASHINGTON AT MINNESOTA VIKINGS (-16, 41.5 @ BETAMERICA)
Speaking of Cousins, it’s been a tale of two seasons for the Vikings’ signal caller. Cousins threw for just 735 yards on 7.12 yards per attempt with just three touchdowns to two interceptions and a 88.6 quarterback rating during the Vikings first four games, but he’s been on an absolute tear since then.
Cousins has thrown for 976 yards on 12.57 yards per attempt with 10 touchdowns compared to just one interception and a 142.6 quarterback rating over the past three games. Now, he faces a Washington defense that ranks 24th in passing defense DVOA. To put it simply, Washington made Mitchell Trubisky look good. Take Cousins and the Vikings to open the scoring with a touchdown.
Pick: First Score – Vikings Touchdown (+125)
FIRST HALF BET
The funny thing about this matchup is, while Washington is in a much worse place than Minnesota, it’s Case Keenum who was the last one to take the Vikings to their last NFC Championship game. And Keenum actually hasn’t been that horrible for Washington. He’s thrown for 1,213 yards on 66.3 percent passing with nine touchdowns and four picks. The stink of the whole Washington franchise is probably what is brining him down.
That said, Keenum and Washington have had real problems converting those numbers into points particularly in the first half of games. The Hogs rank 31st in the NFL when it comes to first-half scoring, at just 6.7 points per contest.
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Meanwhile, the Vikings are one of the stingiest teams in the league when it comes to allowing opponents to score in the first half when playing at home, at just 5.7 per contest. Even at less than a touchdown, taking Washington to stay Under its first half team total is a good bet.
Pick: Washington Under 6.5 First Half Team Total
Stefon Diggs was one of multiple Vikings pass catchers to chide Cousins for his poor start. But boy, has Cousins ever made it up to him. Over the last four games Diggs has turned his 30 targets into 24 receptions for 461 yards and three scores. And this week he could be even more of the focal point for the passing game as Adam Thielen has been ruled out with a hamstring injury. With Thielen’s 24 targets from the last three-plus weeks up for grabs, Diggs should easily be able to go Over his reception total in this one.
Pick: Stefon Diggs Over 5.5 Receptions
FULL GAME TOTAL
While Cousins and the Vikings’ pass attack has been humming the last three weeks, the offense still heavily relies on the running game. Minnesota still ranks third in the NFL in rushing attempts per game behind what has been an awesome season for running back Dalvin Cook. The Vikings back leads the NFL in rushing yards and went over 100 yards for the fifth time this season in last week’s win over Detroit. He also scored twice to boost his total to eight rushing touchdowns.
Now, if there is one part of the Washington defense that has been OK, it has been its rushing defense which ranks 18th in DVOA. But expect Minnesota to keep grinding it out on the ground especially considering Thielen is out for this matchup. Mix in a Washington offense that ranks 29th in DVOA and you have a recipe for an Under.
Pick: Under 41.5
FULL GAME SIDE
To make matters worse for a Washington offense that is already having problems scoring, Adrian Peterson is dealing with a mild high ankle sprain and low ankle sprain, while backup Chris Thompson (turf toe) also sat out practice Tuesday after missing Sunday's loss. That leaves the Vikings Defense able to key on Washington’s lone weapon on offense, wide receiver Terry McLaurin. This could be a long night for Washington. They covered for the first time since Week 1 last time out, but the weather gets a major assist on that one. And with this being a bit of a revenge game for Cousins, there’s just no way you can have any faith in backing Washington here. Lay the points.
Pick: Vikings -16