Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, December 9, 2015 at 7:00 AM
Losing at home to Green Bay was bad enough. The score was 30-13, and we’re talking about a Packers team that’s mostly been laying eggs just before and just after that visit to the suddenly fading Vikings. Last Thursday’s TV feature was a miracle win for Green Bay in Detroit in a game they should have lost! Losing BIG on your home field to the Packers is definitely a big strike against you right now.
But…not as big a strike as losing at home to Seattle 38-7 in what could have been a flat spot for the Seahawks. Instead, Seattle reminded everyone what championship football looks like. Minnesota was outgained 433-125, and lost yards-per-play by a stunning 6.6 to 2.6.
Even though Minnesota is 8-4 at the three-quarter pole of the 2015 NFL season…and virtually assured of making the playoffs unless they just collapse…it’s very yard to take the Vikings seriously as a team that’s going to matter in January. They just lost home games by a score of 68-20 to two likely NFC postseason entries! They absolutely MUST turn that around this Thursday night in a huge road game at 10-2 Arizona. Show up here…and there’s a chance the Vikings can get things figured out. Get waxed again…forget about it!
*The offense will be seen as too one-dimensional, with the easiest dimension to stop
*Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater will be seen as too indecisive and inexperienced
*The defense will be seen as one that can only stop bad teams, not good ones
*The Vikings as a whole will have been exposed as pretenders
Let’s see what JIM HURLEY’S key indicator stats say about Minnesota’s chances Thursday night and a month from now…
Won-Lost Records (Strength of Schedule)
Minnesota: 8-4 (#14 ranked schedule according to Sagarin)
Arizona: 10-2 (#25 ranked schedule according to Sagarin)
Amazing that Minnesota looks “legit” in terms of posting a good record against what amounts to a league average schedule (given the margin of error in Sagarin’s methodology). But…they just spent two home games showing that they’re NOT! Minny is 8-2 straight up in their other 10 games. Arizona has passed some recent tests…including on the road at Seattle and at home against Cincinnati. That 10-2 would probably be 9-3 against a league average schedule. In terms of litmus tests…the host keeps passing while the visitor has been flunking. Overall…the Vikings at least have a chance to compete.
Minnesota: 5.1 on offense, 5.4 on defense
Arizona: 6.4 on offense, 5.3 on defense
Huge differences here. Minnesota is below break-even against a league average schedule…with a very poor offense considering the greatness of their running back. Bridgewater isn’t showing the progression most experts had been expecting this season. The defenses basically cancel out on a per-play basis. The offenses? It’s a mismatch. Carson Palmer and company know how to go for the big play. Minnesota hopes they can bust a few long runs. Big advantage to the Cards: +1.1 to -0.3 per play.
This one’s a wash. Both teams are slightly getting the best of it in the risk/reward equation. That differential is a strike against Arizona in terms of being championship caliber. The problem with relying on big passing plays is that interceptions are more common in big games, as are fumbles off of sacks. Minnesota’s conservative approach helps them beat mistake-prone opponents. That’s the key to their success this year. They make fewer mistakes vs. weaker opposition…but don’t have much of an arsenal against quality.
Minnesota: 9-3 ATS (2-9-1 to the Under)
Arizona: 7-5 ATS (8-4 to the Over)
Those numbers speak volumes. Minnesota is 9-1 ATS in the 10 games that weren’t against Green Bay and Seattle! They play low scoring games with a run-heavy approach that helps keep their defense fresh. They MUST impose that will Thursday in the desert. Arizona has been a money-maker…and they’ve done that with an offense that lights up the scoreboard. Obviously, they want to impose THAT will on Thursday’s proceedings. Whoever controls the flow of the game is going to cover…and may drive an Over/Under bet too.
Current Line: Arizona by 7.5, total of 46.5
The market’s seen enough of Minnesota! Arizona isn’t just laying a TD at home…they’ve been pushed up past the key number because sharps can see this one getting away from Bridgewater. He already showed he can’t play from behind against the Packers and Seahawks. He’s going to be a sitting duck against the Arizona defense if he falls behind here.
Clearly volatile potential…with Arizona having a definite chance to match what Green Bay and Seattle did (or, say, what Pittsburgh did to Indianapolis this past Sunday night in a similar type matchup). But, all is not lost for the Vikes. If they CAN establish the run and move the chains…then they can shorten the game in hopes of forcing a coin flip. Arizona better not assume this is going to be a walk in the park. Or, Carson Palmer will spend the night on the sidelines watching the clock run!
JIM HURLEY has a strong opinion about this potential playoff preview. You can purchase the final word on game day right here at the website with your credit card. Between now and then…keep building your bankrolls with basketball! If you have any questions, call us in the office at 1-888-777-4155 during normal business hours Tuesday or Wednesday.
Back with you soon to look at this Sunday Night’s huge Patriots/Texans affair. Here’s what’s coming up in the NOTEBOOK…
*NFL Sunday Night TV Preview…New England at Houston
*NFL Monday Night TV Preview…NY Giants at Miami
*Coming Soon…marquee bowl previews!
The schedule will be getting busy once the bowls arrive. We’re looking to preview games like BYU/Utah, UCLA/Nebraska, North Carolina/Baylor, and the National Semifinals featuring Oklahoma vs. Clemson and Alabama vs. Michigan State.
It’s going to be A DECEMBER TO REMEMBER…and you’ll be stocking those Christmas stockings with cash! Keep cashing those tickets in basketball and football with JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!
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