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2018 Vikings Schedule Discussion (Part 4 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 4 of 4)**
RC: I think the Vikings will split the NO and DET home games, so I'm there with a 5-4 record. Now, we have @CHI, GB, @NE, @SEA. I think we're looking at a 4-game losing streak here. Just on the natural odds of things, I'm sure MINN will win one of them...but no better than 1-3 in this 4-game stretch.
I don't Minnesota beats GB at home either, but it's either beat GB or take down SEA at Seattle. If you paint them with a 1-3 record in that stretch, we have a 6-7 Vikings team heading into the final three games of the season and with the strength of the NFC, I think 10 wins is the minimum for the wild card and essentially the Vikings season is over only they don't know it yet. They will still press for a 9-7 record, hoping that gets them in...but they'll have to sweep the final 3 games. Before that though...1-3 in the 4-game nightmare stretch, right?
SKOL: They certainly could go 1-3 but I want to give them a 2-2 record in that stretch. @CHI was a 50/50ish game for us when we reviewed the Bears. Home for the Packers is slightly better than 50/50 (I feel the teams are close enough where it’s responsible to project a split). I’ll be in Foxboro on Dec 2 and I expect to see the Vikings lose unless Brady is out. I do like the Vikings chances at Seattle because it’s MNF...that gives them an extra day to deal with the brutal at New England then at Seattle the following week. By this time in the season the Seahawks will realize that they are a sunk ship so I feel like this is a decently solid road win. Great home fields are only great when the team is good. If this game means something for SEA it could be tough but the Vikings opened as 2 point favorites at SEA so Vegas agrees.
That would leave you at 6-7, me at 7-6 with a clear projected win at home vs Miami in week 15, correct? That would bring those to 7-7, 8-6 respectively.
Then we close with @DET and home against the Bears.
Wow, the Packers close with @NYJ and home vs the Lions...pressure is on the Vikings and Bears to be ahead of GB by week 15 (or have the tie breaker).
RC: I would argue 0-4/1-3 for that Weeks 11-14 stretch more than 1-3/2-2, but 2-2 is not crazy talk.
It makes me stop and think...we've had to wade through a lot of tough games for Minnesota this 2018 season, and that's why I think the overall weight of it is going to get them...get them in an 8-8 or worse season.
I think everyone that could've gone the Vikings' way did last season. Rodgers out 2x. Caught the Saints early before they broke out. Caught the Bears self-inflicting wounds on themselves 2x. Had AFC North schedule rotation (CLE-BAL-CIN)...and CIN at the right time as Joe Mixon was out. Had the Vikings had to deal with Rodgers 2x and new, better coaches with CHI...it's more a 10-6 team not 13-3. The tough NFC South on the 2018 rotation now as well. Saints and Eagles on schedule this year by virtue of their #1 finish in 2017. This 2018 schedule is coming to get them.
I agree they beat MIA Week 15, but then I see a split with at DET and CHI to finish...and that puts me 8-8. I could see 7-9, losing the final two, if they lose at DET Week 16 and that ends the playoff run and they play for fake pride versus the in the playoff hunt Bears Week 17.
As glorious as the 2017 schedule turned out, the 2018 schedule, on paper, is set up to be a nightmare. Even just the at SEA...Seattle is beatable at home -- but then this is at Seattle on MNF with the Vikes just coming off GB-NE the prior two weeks. It's like schedule is not fair and I don't think this Vikings team is talented enough to overcome it. Zimmer, to me, has proven he'll fall more than not in the tougher games/against high-end QBs. By my count they faced 3 high-end QBs in 2017, this year, if Trubisky breaks out...it's 10 high-end QB matchups (and that's not counting Stafford as high-end).
Last year, the Vikes had 5 playoff teams on the schedule. In 2018, if you consider GB, CHI, and SF playoff teams...(and not BUF) the Vikes may have 9 matchups with 2018 playoff teams -- and in four of the first 5 games (three of them on the road).
I hate this schedule, and I could see the front-loaded schedule derailing them early and them never recovering because the division is so much stronger. I'm not as anti-MINN as I am anti-this schedule layout.
SKOL: I believe the Vikings win total opened at 9.5 and was quickly bet up to 10. I was trying to be as fair as possible going through the games and I still need wins against the Lions and Bears in the final 2 weeks just to push.
Every Vikings preview I’ve heard (ok there have only been two) would make you think the “over” is the only option for this team. And both spoke about adding Cousins like they added Peyton Manning in his prime. I’m cheering for Cousins but I’m haunted by visions of completions to the wrong team when the game is on the line. Am I missing something?
I think Stafford and Flacco have been proof that paying an average QB tons of money doesn’t make him a better QB. Killer schedule, turnover at key positions on offense and the history of falling down the year after they make a deep playoff run...I don’t know how you bet them over 10 wins. If I’m wrong about Cousins (and he goes 30+ TD to single digit TD/INT...and RC is wrong about Cook (and he plays like a star RB) then this team could dominate their way to home field advantage.
From a betting prospective, I just can’t shake the feeling that the best-case scenario is being priced in as the most likely outcome. And I know my view of 2018 is being skewed by my belief that you never pay a guy who is not top 10 talent at his position the most money of any player at his position. Hopefully bad business leads to a Super Bowl Championship!
RC: I just think everything that can be lined up against the Vikings in 2018...is. I think the Vikes are an 8-8/9-7 talent team with a bad schedule that drags them down to 7-9/8-8. We all typically look at the year before, assume that's the baseline and then see what the team did in the offseason -- so adding Cousins seems like the missing piece. Cousins is not a top QB, but he's OK. Dalvin Cook is not a game changer. The defense is good but not great. This whole team flourished with Aaron Rodgers gone, the Bears a joke, and Lions adrift/predictable. Now, Rodgers is back, the Bears are exciting, and the Lions will at least be different. 3-3 in division versus 5-1 is more likely for the Vikings. By virtue of finish #1 last year, they draw PHI, NO onto the schedule on top of the tough NFC West and New England in the rotation.
It's just a bad setup for a solid team.
Their schedule could get them off to a 1-4 start, and I don't see Zimmer as a guy who rallies the troops in crisis (a la 2016 collapse). Good team that's highly overrated from a fortuitous 2017. 10 wins would mean everything went right for them (and others in division get ravaged with injury) and that's hard to have happen in the NFL.