On Sunday, December 3, 2017, the 9-2 Minnesota Vikings travel to Mercedes-Benz Stadium to take on the 7-4 Atlanta Falcons. This is a contest that pits two of the most surprising teams in the NFL against one another, as Atlanta was expected to roll on their way back to the Super Bowl, while Minnesota was expected to be fighting for the post season. However, it is Atlanta fighting for their playoff lives while Minnesota is dominating the NFC North.
The Vikings have played well against the spread this season, going 8-3 including going 5-0 against the spread in their last five contests. The Vikings are 15-8 against the spread on the road in their last 23 games. They have gone over in four of their last five games, and over in five of their last seven on the road. In the last seven games between these two teams in Atlanta, Minnesota is 5-2 in the total has gone under in seven of the last eight games in Atlanta.
The Falcons are 5-6 against the spread this season and are 1-3-1 against the spread in the last five games between these two teams. Atlanta has gone over in 18 of their last 25 games, including going over in 13 of their last 16 at home. The Falcons have won seven of their last 10 games at home.
Vikings vs. Falcons
Spread: Minnesota +2.5 (+110); Atlanta -2.5 (-130) Get the latest NFL odds direct from Las Vegas with WagerTalk Live Lines
Moneyline: Atlanta +132; Atlanta -152
Totals: Over/Under 47.0 (-110)
Minnesota enters this contest as hot as anyone west of Philadelphia, winning their last seven games. They haven’t dominated opponents, with the exception of Los Angeles and Cleveland, showing that they can win the close games, as they have won four games by eight points or less the season.
The Vikings are getting the unbelievable play out of quarterback Case Keenum, who entered this season as the third-string quarterback but is having such an outstanding year that he is relegating Teddy Bridgewater to the bench. Keenum has thrown for 2476 yards and 14 touchdowns, while only being sacked seven times and intercepted five times. The Vikings QB has completed 66.1 percent of his passes and looks to be a lock leading this team to the playoffs.
Minnesota is getting just enough running out of Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon. Murray has rushed for 496 yards while McKinnon has 390. Neither are averaging better than 3.8 yards per carry, but they play solidly enough to make the play action work, and the two have combined for eight touchdowns.
The Minnesota defense has played exceptionally well, recording 30 sacks this season. Everson Griffen has been an absolute beast, recording 12.0 sacks, and has forced three fumbles this year. Minnesota has nine interceptions, led by safety Harrison Smith who has three.
Atlanta has been a difficult team to figure out this season. They won their first three games of the year, but then went through a funk where they lost to Buffalo, Miami, New England, and Carolina before finally being able to get a little of their mojo back. The Falcons enter the game on a three-game winning streak.
It has been the play of Matt Ryan that has been the most mind-boggling part. Ryan was the MVP last season, but this year he has been middle of the pack at best, throwing for 16 touchdowns with eight interceptions, while being sacked 16 times. He has thrown for 2884 yards, and is coming off a 317 yard performance against Tampa Bay last weekend.
With Devonta Freeman out for the season, Tevin Coleman has come in and played exceptionally well at the running back position. He has gained 539 yards and scored five touchdowns while averaging 4.4 yards per carry.
The Falcons defense is getting after the quarterback, recording 30 sacks this season. However, since the offense is not dominating games it has allowed this defense to be exposed. Atlanta has actually given up one more point than they have scored this season, which is quite surprising for a team that is three games above .500. One major issue has been that the Falcons have just three interceptions the season, and should not be expecting to get any against the very intelligent and accurate Keenum.
Vikings vs. Falcons Betting Lines
Minnesota enters this game as one of the hottest teams in the NFL, and they have a lot of things going for them. However, Atlanta desperately needs this victory if they are going to have any shot at making the playoffs. Ryan has looked significantly better lately and may be the kind of quarterback that is too much for this Minnesota defense. Take Atlanta to win by three, and for the total to be in the 50s.
My Pick: Atlanta -2.5 (-130)
Total: Over 47 (-110)
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