Rich Hribar and Raymond Summerlin bring you their best bets every Friday of the NFL season as well as a preview of Sunday Night Football. The preview is free, but the bets can only be found in the Rotoworld Season Pass. Don’t miss out on the action.
Rich: 19-16-1 season record (last week: 2-4)
Raymond: 22-13-1 season record (last week: 4-2)
All lines taken from the VI Consensus at VegasInsider.com Friday morning.
Sunday Night Football – Saints @ Vikings (Pick) – 52-point total
Rich: Sunday Night features two of the hotter teams in the league as the Saints have won five games in a row while the Vikings have won their past three contests. It also is a meeting that we saw begin and end the Saints’ 2017 with losses. Minnesota beat New Orleans at home twice last year with two different quarterbacks. The first was a 29-19 victory in Week 1 with Sam Bradford under center. The second was in the Divisional Round of the playoffs when Case Keenum found Stefon Diggs on the Minneapolis Miracle to give the Vikings a 29-24 win.
Not only have the Saints been hot, but they’ve been hot against the spread, covering in each of their past four games, with three of those coming on the road. Keeping both their winning streak and covering the spread will be a tall ask as the Vikings have been particularly strong at home since Mike Zimmer joined the team. At home over that span, the Vikings are 26-11 straight up and 25-9-3 against the spread. This year, however, they are just 1-1-1 at home against the spread, clouding that picture, but both of their non-covers were laying double-digit points (although they also lost one of those games outright to the Bills).
From a betting standpoint, it’s easy to pick a side if you feel strongly about who wins the game. Heads up, neither of these teams have an overly impressive resume so far as they have combined for one win over another team with a winning record, that coming last week when the Saints beat the Ravens on the road. The Vikings have turned things around defensively but have also played two rookie quarterbacks in Josh Rosen and Sam Darnold the past two games. In the end, I expect this to be a tight game, but I don’t have a clear opinion on which one of these teams is actually truly better.
A lot of people will play short home favorites or dogs on principle, but there’s no edge there. This season, home teams getting or giving less than a field goal are 15-13-1 straight up and are 15-14 against the spread. Some will say the Saints are coming off an emotionally charged win and are due for a letdown, but road teams coming off a 1-3 points road win the week before are strong against the number, going 43-39-3 versus the spread over the past decade.
All of that is a roundabout way of me saying that I’m leaving this one alone. I could be persuaded on the game total going under, but I’m settling in to enjoy the game on its own merits this Sunday night.
Ray: I am in lockstep with Rich here. Both of these teams have turned their seasons around after rough starts, but neither has played a particularly impressive schedule. That is especially true for the Vikings, who came away with an impressive win in Philly but then followed that up with wins over two rookie quarterbacks. They will face a considerably tougher test on Sunday night, and they also have serious injury questions on defense with Xavier Rhodes, Anthony Barr, and Andrew Sendejo all looking likely to sit. All of that pushes me towards the Saints, but I also do not feel strongly enough about it to make an official pick.
Read the rest of the column in the Rotoworld Season Pass...