Welcome back to The Combine Sports and another edition of the Bet of the Week article. Last weekend was about all you can ever ask for as a gambler. We found the winner’s circle with two plus-five underdogs that prevailed as outright victors (Colts and 49ers) and scrambled late in the Cowboys versus Eagles game to get the total over 43 points.
Our 3-0 week increases our total to (5-1-1) since starting this write-up in Week 11, and we will attempt to keep the momentum rolling on what appears to be a less exciting weekend of value. Picking and choosing your spots to attack is essential to success in sports betting, which means that just because we expanded our bankroll, we shouldn’t foolishly be putting our funds back on the line without good reason to do so.
Week 15 provides a collection of semi-substantial road dogs for us to have to decipher if there is any value. During the Sunday and Monday games, eight of the 13 matchups feature a home team that is favored by three or more points, with six of those contests coming in at minus-six or higher. That isn’t necessarily a negative, but I am not usually a huge fan of road underdogs that are receiving around 50 percent of the wagers and a touchdown worth of points. On the flip side, I am also not a major proponent of laying points in what looks like the public side of the game. That doesn’t mean I never do those two things, but I am not overly excited about this card, and very few of those situations are jumping out to me.
While the slate isn’t the most enticing I have seen this season, three games have caught my attention. The Panthers +6.5 versus the New Orleans Saints is intriguing for a few reasons. New Orleans will be making their third trip on the road in the past three weeks and will have to go into Carolina for a Monday night game that presumably will be the Panthers essential Super Bowl. Carolina isn’t mathematically eliminated from the playoff picture, but they would need a handful of things to happen and should be able to play pressure-free football in front of a raucous crowd. Ultimately, I decided to leave that game off of my official “Bet of the Week” card, but there is some value to be had on Carolina if you can stomach opposing the high-powered Saints during a prime-time game.
The Indianapolis Colts -3 over the Dallas Cowboys is another game that has piqued my curiosity. I initially began the week anticipating this being my selection when they were at -2.5 and even wrote the write up for it, but with the number shifting to -3 and T.Y. Hilton being questionable for the game on Sunday, I will ultimately leave it off my card. I do have a bet on them at -2.5 but can’t fully justify it at its new price.
Miami Dolphins (+7.0) versus the Minnesota Vikings (-7.0) O/U 44.5
As you become more accustomed to my style and how I approach these games, you will realize that I mostly try to find value in underdogs, but this week presents a unique opportunity.
The Minnesota Vikings were embarrassed on national television during Monday night’s road debacle against the Seattle Seahawks by a score of 21-7. The Vikings looked anemic on offense and were verbally destroyed by the disastrous Monday Night Football announcing crew. I think it has become a widespread sentiment that the trio of Jason Witten, Booger McFarland and Joe Tessitore have done a pretty atrocious job this season of calling games — but for the Vikings to be lambasted in front of millions of viewers, it resonates in the mind of the average fan all week, even if they know that the source isn’t the most credible.
And the reason for this is simple. Our eyes were able to confirm the outlandish comments that were being made about Minnesota during the broadcast. Some of them were justified, but they were very harsh to a team that seemingly suffered every bad break imaginable during the game. That doesn’t excuse quarterback Kirk Cousins poor play or offensive coordinator John DeFilippo’s lousy play-calling, and someone had to be accountable for the embarrassment that was Monday night, which is why DeFilippo lost his job with what transpired during the game.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Miami Dolphins pulled out one of the all-time great shockers against the New England Patriots, completing a hook-and-lateral on the final play of the game for 69 yards to stun New England. The most iconic part of that play to me will always be running back Kenyan Drake outrunning Rob Gronkowski to get into the end zone and watching Gronk stumble near the goal line.
The differing outcomes last week does have me moderately surprised that we haven’t seen more Miami Dolphins money come in, but I am not concerned when the ticket slips are just about 50/50 on the game. Sharp bettors don’t seem overly interested in grabbing a touchdown with Miami this week, and I think it makes sense from a statistical breakdown of the game.
Miami Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard, who is tied for the league-lead in interceptions this year, is doubtful for Sunday’s game –which would be a massive blow to an already struggling Miami defense. The Dolphins rank 24th in overall defensive efficiency on the year and 26th in passing defense. I know the narrative of Kirk Cousins being overpaid and incapable of beating a good team has been shoved down our throats this week, but Miami is an overrated team that is entering a classic letdown spot after last week’s season-altering victory.
The Vikings have struggled to get anything going this year on the ground, but I believe that Dalvin Cook being in and out of the lineup has caused them to grade out 31st in overall run efficiency. If we look at Minnesota’s rushing success rate the last two weeks when Cook has been fully healthy, the Vikings are grading out ninth in the NFL with a 50 percent success rate rushing. The impressive part about that is it features Monday’s fiasco in the statistics and still shows the success they have been having on the ground.
When breaking down Miami’s offense, I struggle to find how they can be successful if Kirk Cousins does get the Vikings off to a quick start. The Dolphins have had most of their success on the ground this season, but if they get behind in a challenging road game, quarterback Ryan Tannehill is going to have his hands full. Miami ranks 20th in passing efficiency, 28th in offensive line adjusted sack rate and they rank outside the top-24 in the league when it comes to offensive success rate passing and explosive runs and passes.
Both teams have a lot to play for this weekend, but I could see the Dolphins struggling to find any success on offense and forcing throws if the game gets away from them early –which is how blowouts start taking form. I would imagine that Cousins and the Vikings won’t be holding anything back either and should try to make a statement offensively. Like I mentioned above, you won’t find me laying these amount of points often, but sometimes you have to be willing to step outside your comfort zone when a situation presents itself.
Rowdy Bold Prediction: Minnesota 31 – Miami 13
Recommended Bet: Minnesota (-7)
Bet of the Week Record : (5-1-1)