Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 8:45 AM EST. Odds subject to change.
Minnesota +122 over Denver
8:20 PM EST. Two red-hot teams clash on Sunday Night Football, each hoping to ride their momentum straight into their respective conference playoffs, but we see a clear difference in legitimacy.
Let’s pump the breaks on the Broncos, shall we? Admittedly they have looked good in some ways. Sean Payton is clearly making a difference in Russell Wilson’s quarterback-play. Wilson looks more like the Seattle superstar we were all amazed by for years in Seattle. He’s scrambling at the right times, not making as many poor decisions with the football (18 TDs, 4 INTs), and he doesn’t look overwhelmed or unsure in the big moments. In the end, Payton might’ve been right about last year’s operation– Nathaniel Hackett was probably way over his head, and Wilson was an easy scapegoat.
The Denver-defense has also improved. Since Week 6, they’ve only allowed 16.8 ppg. They’re limiting first downs, forcing turnovers, and their secondary is playing with more poise. They’re still not very good against the run– they permitted over 200 yards to the Bills in a win last Monday– but it’s a unit that’s growing in confidence.
How much confidence should Denver have after three straight wins is the question. Stepping back, it hasn’t been all that impressive. The Broncos started their winning-streak by beating a struggling Jordan Love and the Packers at home, and they only won by two points. Then they grabbed another W against the Chiefs when Patrick Mahomes was fighting the flu and KC had a trip to Germany on deck, aka a terrible spot for the visiting champs. And last Monday, Josh Allen and an undisciplined Bills’ squad had to turn it over four different times for the Broncos to eke out another two-point win. The Broncos won all three of these games, but their opponents were just as much if not more responsible for those results.
We cannot make the same statement about their opponent on Sunday night. The Vikings are a team no team wants to play right now, and they looked levels above the Saints last Sunday. Josh Dobbs picked up where he left off after his Week 9 comeback win, picking apart an exceptional Saints’ secondary and leading his team to a 24-3 halftime lead last Sunday. Adding 44 yards on the ground, Dobbs accounted for 302 of the Vikings’ 388 total yards, proving again why he’s a viable QB. We think he might be even more.
Dobbs has been the catalyst Minnesota needed without Kirk Cousins. Cousins’ attitude and arm-talent made him a beloved member of the Vikings, but Dobbs gives their offense an element they haven’t had before. His ability to elude blitzes and scramble while keeping his eyes down field is not something Minnesota fans have seen since Dante Culpepper. Four out of five of the Vikings’ first Week 10 drives were turned into scores against a defense most critics would consider above-average. That allowed the Minnesota defense to play the kind of game they thrive at: downhill football, aggressive, flying to the ball. Whether it was Derek Carr or Jameis Winston, the Saints’ offense caught up in garbage time but Brian Flores’ defense made the plays when they needed to.
Denver is spotting 2½ points simply because they’re at home. A spread like this suggests Minnesota and Denver are two even teams, and that’s not something we can endorse. Minnesota has an exceptional amount of talent on offense, even without Justin Jefferson, and their defense plays in attack-mode each and every week. Josh Dobbs, with his running ability and preparedness, escalates their production without Kirk Cousins. Minnesota believes in themselves and they have looked dominant against average teams like the Broncos. We’re not going to fade the surging Vikings, not just yet.
Minnesota +122 (Risking 0 units - To Win: 0.00)