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What a year of Legal Betting on the Vikings has Taught us

Betting with your Head, Not your Heart is the Way to Go

Coming into the 2018 NFL season, the Minnesota Vikings and their supporters would have felt confident that they had all the pieces in place to become one of the NFL’s top offenses and challenge the Chicago Bears for the NFC North Division. That optimism was two-fold, though, as sports betting has been kicked to each state to determine whether or not they’d like to allow their citizens to make decisions about their own money and thus there was a lot of money backing the Vikings from those brave enough to risk not only their hearts but also their wallets on their favorite team.

While the season ended up being a complete let-down, the question is whether or not Vikings fans that did bet on the purple and gold were let down as well? Let’s take a look at how the season broke down from that perspective to perhaps get some insight into betting on the Vikings this year (and also to rub just a little bit more salt into our collective wounds..

An opening day 24-16 win at the U.S. Bank Stadium against the San Francisco 49ers should have seen many punters picking up some winnings and there would have been big cash sums to collect if anyone had been brave enough to bet on the Vikings tying their next game at Lambeau Field when they met the Green Bay Packers the following week. This would be one of only two tied games throughout the whole NFL season, and a fixture that saw three Field Goal attempts missed by Vikings rookie Daniel Carlson, two of which came in overtime for a 29-29 final score. Barf.

Two successive defeats to the Buffalo Bills and Los Angeles Rams followed, which meant the odds of a Vikings win at the reigning Super Bowl champions, the Philadelphia Eagles, would have been very attractive for those looking for winning NFL betting picks. When they returned from the Lincoln Financial Field with a narrow 23-21 win, there would have many happy Vikings punters if they’d back their team against the odds.

Two further wins followed; a 27-17 defeat of the Arizona Cardinals before an impressive 37-17 win at  MetLife Stadium against the New York Jets. Next, up, were the New Orleans Team that Should Not Be Named, who came to town riding a five-game winning streak. That streak, unfortunately, was extended to six games as they bested the Vikes 30 – 20. Games like that can be more emotional than rational for the betting Vikings fan, as the memory of the 2009 NFC Championship game (and the Minneapolis Miracle) is still, and forever will be, fresh in the minds of the Vikings fan that loves the team enough to place money on them. That emotion can lead to people betting in the first place or increasing their bets, so it’s safe to say that at least some people lost a pretty penny on that loss.

However, the Vikings bounced back with a 24:9 success back on home soil against the Detroit Lions.  So, for the first nine games, the Vikings certainly looked the part of a team worth betting on, without necessarily picking up the wins, averaging 24.5 points per game and 374 yards of total offense. Unfortunately, after a week ten Bye, the team plummeted to just 19.8 points per game and 308 yards of total offense during the rest of the season. Ralph.

Game ten saw the Vikings face the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field at excellent odds to get the win, but there would be more disappointment as the Bears secured a narrow 25-20 victory. A week later the Vikings faced the Green Bay Packers again. Would any punters be tempted to gamble on the teams playing out another draw? Minnesota landed a home win by 24-17.

Game 12 would have offered some big odds for a Vikings win as they traveled to the Gillette Stadium to face the New England Patriots, but they sustained a 24-10 defeat, before losing nine days later, 21-7 at the Seattle Seahawks.

The Vikings hit their highest points total of the season when beating the Miami Dolphins 41-17, the week that they fired their new offensive coordinator, John DeFilippo. That was their largest points tally since registering 37 points against the New York Jets. That result was followed up with another comfortable defeat of the Detroit Lions, winning 27-9 at Ford Field. While I’m sure you’re aware of this as a fan who watched the 2018 season but a narrative or pattern had emerged and was pretty obvious to the discerning NFL/Sports Betting fan and that was that the 2018 Vikings seemingly could only beat teams with losing records or games that didn’t matter.

Speaking of which, their final game of the 2018 campaign would have seen many Vikings fans having one final campaign bet, to beat the Chicago Bears at the U.S. Bank Stadium, especially as the visitors had already secured the NFC North Division and their place in the playoffs. But it would be another victory for the Bears, running out 24-10 winners. Vomit.

It was an inconsistent season for the Vikings, winning eight of their 16 games, losing seven and drawing once. Of those wins, five came at the U.S. Bank Stadium with three defeats, so there would have been more successful bets returned from their home form.

However, with three wins on the road at larger odds, the winnings might have been similar to those won at home, especially with impressive victories at the New York Jets and specifically that superb win against the Philadelphia Eagles. It’s actually hard then, to really know what to think of the 2019 Vikings, in general but especially from a betting perspective. Predictions about their chances to re-enter the elite club are all over the place from talking heads around the country and even people who set betting odds seem to change their mind and disagree.

That uncertainty and inconsistency stems from the Vikings’ inconsistency that defined the Vikings season. The first quarter (plus) of the season, the Vikes defense appeared to be a shell of it’s former self, a unit that had been exposed by the Eagles (or even the second half of the Saints game) and had give up on Zimmer and his system. The Vikings’ offense had got off to a superb start in 2018, but they weren’t able to maintain it as the NFL defenses adjusted.

That inconsistency always makes it hard to predict how things are going to go and therefore it’s very hard to actually bet/win with any consistency. The positive there, though, is that if/when you do land that gamble you can end up with some great winnings as the odds tend to be in your favor. So, strap in for 2019, as a lot of odds-makers aren’t giving the Vikings much credit. So, I’m personally putting a decent chunk of change on the Vikings this season as I believe that they’ve got the best top-to-bottom roster that they’ve had in my 35 years on this planet (and that includes the first Randy Moss era and the AP/Favre splendor of 2009), but whether or not you’re comfortable in joining me is completely up to you.

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Sam Shefrin

Sam Shefrin likes to write about sports betting and daily fantasy sports. Sam's work has been seen on Lineups.com, DepthCharts.com and Daily Fantasy Cafe. Sam will be looking at the betting side of the Vikings. He was born in Hawaii, but doesn't surf. You can follow him on twitter @samshefrin https://twitter.com/samshefrin

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