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2018 Vikings Schedule Discussion (Part 2 of 4)
Two handicapping enthusiasts (RC Fischer and the Notorious ‘Skol’ from our handicapping group/Vikings enthusiast) going through an NFL team’s schedule to examine the logic of betting early win total over/unders and division title bets, etc. We are going back and forth on email and the transcripts of that are below. Just casual conversation as-is, so forgive any typos, misspells, etc.
And now, a look at the Minnesota Vikings 2018 schedule in four parts (because it’s near 5,000 words total…and to build the drama!!)…
**2018 Vikings Schedule Discussion (Part 2 of 4)**
SKOL: Week 1 Jimmy GQ and Jet McKinnon come to US Bank Stadium. The first line I saw was -4.5 which moved to -5 pretty early on and has been there since.
This offseason I felt like people were getting way to crazy for the 49ers because of the way they finished the year. I wanted to fade that excitement for this team and the “5 wins in a row headline”. The 5 wins were...
@ the 5-11 Bears by 1 point (49ers scores 0 TDs)
@ the Yates/Savage led 4-12 Texans by 10
Home vs 9-7 Titans by 2
Home vs 10-6 Jax (44-33)
@ the Rams in week 17...(Rams rested everyone / Sean Mannion was the Rams QB (169 yards))
I watched the highlights of the 49ers Christmas Eve game against Jacksonville and it really colored my opinion of the week 1 game vs the Vikings. The Jags didn’t roll over in this game and every time they got close or ahead the 49ers answered. This Niner team was resilient. Now they add veteran leadership on defense with Richard Sherman to go with some decent young talent. Under normal circumstances I would be in strong favor of the Vikings since they enter the year as the better perceived team and they have one of the best home field advantages in the NFL. However, I can see a bad scenario playing out in my mind’s eye. Cousins first start so the place is going to be crazy. The Vikings defense will be on fire! The Vikings may score first...and maybe even second. But at some point, if the 49ers take the lead, that is where things get interesting. How’s the Vikings psyche after losing 2 playoff games last season? I can’t shake the feeling that if Jimmy G has the ball last, he will lead his team to a win. If Cousins has the ball last, I think it’s a pick or a turnover on downs. I’ve talked myself into really liking +5 here. Vikings will have at least 5 home wins...I think this is one of the games where they are vulnerable.
RC: Mike Zimmer against elite QBs the past three seasons...experienced guys who had control of the offense:
2017: Brees 2x, Big Ben, Foles (2-2)
2016: Rodgers 2x, Luck (1-2)
2015: Peyton, Rodgers 2x, Wilson 2x (1-4)
4-8 record...3-9 if you reverse the Diggs miracle...add another win if you put Goff/2017 in that category. Add 1-1 if you consider Cam Newton in the mix.
I think Zimmer is no match for radical offenses, but he will do better against a matchup of conservative run game teams or mediocre and bad QBs. From that perspective, he's a better than average coach.
I think Jimmy Garoppolo falls in the 'elite' and experienced camp at QB. Kyle Shanahan will be unpredictable, and Mike Zimmer will be very predictable. Given it's a Week 1 game, I think the 49ers out-plan and wreck the Vikings, also given how much better the 49ers have gotten on both sides of the ball. I think this set up is perfect for the 49ers. Midseason, at MIN, I might lean it to the Vikings but opening game tends to go to great planners (had 3-4 months to prepare) or just 'new' coaches who haven't been figured out yet (but will in a few weeks into the season).
I want to go Vikings 0-1 after Week 1. And if we do, I think this season is lost because of the schedule. A win here keeps the Vikings hanging around but a loss to SF is going to set off a schedule-based domino effect that's going to destroy their 2018. Give me this loss...and I'll give you a Week 5 WIN at Philly when we get there.
SKOL: I love that you grouped Foles in there with the elite QBs! If I had to pick straight up, I would take the Vikings in week 1. I’ll give you this loss, but I see @ the Eagles week 5 as a solid loss we need to book. So, we would need to find another game to split our 1-1 with...perhaps the Saints? I like the idea of projecting the Vikings as 1-1 in home games vs the 49ers and Saints.
On more note on week 1, not sure anyone will be looking ahead but the Vikings do have @GB week 2, by far their biggest rival. The 49ers have their home opener vs Det week 2. SF doesn’t play their first division game until week 5.
So, @GB week 2...Packers (-2.5). Green Bay opens the season with a 2-game home stand vs division rivals so they will be coming off SNF vs the Bears. My thought is to give the home team the projected win in the Vikings-Packers series...if you agree then we are that would bring us to 0-2.
RC: You can't spell Foles without M-V-P, and I would note...his game against Minnesota was the single best QB performance of 2017. He's elite and I think the Vikings will make the Eagles (and Wentz) pay for that playoff humiliation in Week 5. Loss to SF and Win over PHI, 1-1 record we'd see in these two games, just with different winners.
I think the 'looking ahead' problem to Week 2 also effects Week 1's LOSS to SF. They will then get beat on the road to Green bay for the same reasons Minnesota will crush Philly Week 5. The Vikings are 0-2 and the schedule remains dark ahead, but there is one sunny day -- Week 3 home against the worst team in football in 2019-2020, the Buffalo Bills. The Vikings take out their angst on the sad Bills in Week 3, right?
1-2 record heading at Los Angeles...and for the same reasons MINN beats Philly Week 5 and loses to GB Week 2, they will lose to the Rams at L.A. in a 'revenge' game for when they squashed the beloved Rams last season.
The Rams revenge scenario is weak, but they are a great team playing at home, so you have to give them the win (McVay knows Cousins too). But the 'revenge' story lines on GB and PHI are very real, I believe. Aaron Rodgers may try to drop 60+ on Minnesota Week 2. Vice-versa Minny on the Eagles for that playoff humiliation. I would love a struggling Eagles team getting smoked by Minnesota at Philly...as Nick Foles, QB of the Vikings' beatdown, sits and watches Wentz get tombstoned in this game -- it could be the game that sets off Wentz getting yanked within the next few weeks.
SKOL: Yes I agree we book the Bills as the easiest win of the season. The look ahead line is Vikings (-10) so no matter what happens in the first 2 weeks we can project the Vikings to get this one. So, you are 1-2 and I’m at 1-1-1. (The last column being a 50/50 - which is SF week 1)
Week 4 @ Rams. I have to reluctantly agree that this game has to go to the Rams. I really wanted to take the Vikings because I think the Rams are secretly weak at home (or at least were last year). Throwing out the week 17 loss to SF (where they rested all of their players) they were 4-3 at home. 4-4 with the playoff Falcons loss. Wins against the QB-less Colts, Cardinals and Texans. Very unusual that they were so much better on the road. If this were a Sunday game I would like the Vikings more but since it is Thursday Night Football and the Rams are home the week before that factor sways me more than any other. Including the fact that Cousins went to LA last year and while he didn’t play a great game did lead the Redskins down the field in a 20-20 game and throw a TD with under 2:00 left to get the win.
-- Part 3 tomorrow --