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NFL Week 4 Betting – Vikes Look for Signature Win in Denver

Sascha Paruk

by Sascha Paruk in NFL Football

Updated Jan 17, 2018 · 9:39 AM PST

Minnesota Vikings at Denver Broncos (-7, 44 o/u)

The 2015 NFL season didn’t start the way the Minnesota Vikings (2-1, 0-1 road) were hoping. The Vikes were routed on Monday night in Week 1, 20-3 by a San Francisco team that was predicted to be terrible. Head coach Mike Zimmer used running back Adrian Peterson sparingly in his return from injury, giving his star just ten carries. Evidently, Zimmer heard the criticism and the last two weeks have seen a completely different game plan … and results.

Peterson has 49 carries and 260 yards on the ground over the last two games. Minnesota has parlayed the strong ground game into easy home wins over the Lions (26-16) and Chargers (31-14). They’ll try to make it three straight tomorrow when they travel to Denver to face Peyton Manning and the Broncos (3-0, 1-0 home) at Mile High (4:30 PM Eastern).

Zimmer has to be encouraged by what he’s seen from Peterson the last two weeks, but it’s the play of the Minnesota front-seven that should really have Denver scared. The Vikings made life miserable for Philip Rivers in Week 3, getting to the Charger QB for four sacks and putting him under pressure constantly. Defensive end Everson Griffen was particularly good with 1.5 sacks and four tackles.

Coming up against a weak Denver o-line, Griffen and company should be able to generate the same sort of pressure.

Manning will likely be operating out of the pistol formation for the majority of the game, though, which will allow him to make a lot of decisions pre-snap. He showed against KC in Week 2 that his pre-play assessments can mitigate the impact of his weak protection.

The battle between Peterson and the Bronco front-seven will, ostensibly, be strength on strength. Denver has the best total defense in the league and is giving up just 82.7 yards per game on the ground. That number was aided by facing a terrible Detroit ground game in Week 3, however. Jamaal Charles and the Chiefs were able to move the ball on the ground in Week 2, with Charles putting up 125 yards and averaging six yards per carry. It remains to be seen whether the Denver d-line is as good against the run as the early numbers suggest.

There are reasons to like the Vikings to keep it close in this game. The defense is playing at a high level and has all the pieces to make life hell for Manning. Meanwhile, Peterson has a good chance to keep the Minny run game strong, taking pressure off second-year QB Teddy Bridgewater in a tough road environment. That said, Minnesota looked like a completely different team in their lone road game so far this year, and the Broncos keep finding ways to win. The Broncos, laying the points, looks like the better value.

Pick: Denver -7. 

(Photo credit: Jeffrey Beall (flickr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/legalcode]. Photo has been cropped.)

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