December 10th, 2015 (2:00 PM ET)
There are 2 picks tonight.
1) Take Minnesota Vikings at +11 spread against Arizona Cardinals for 3% of the bankroll.
The Cardinals are legitimate Super Bowl contenders and don't have many flaws. This isn't a play against them as much as it is a play on Vikings and the generous amount of points that they are being spotted tonight. Both teams are quality and yet perceptions are currently skewed since one is coming off an easy win while the other just suffered an embarrassing defeat! The Vikings aren't suddenly a poor team because of one or two games. They've shown that they are worthy of their 8-4 overall record throughout the course of the season and have in fact been NFL's best team against the spread, having cashed out 9 of 12 tickets! The reason many are suddenly down on them is the fact that they backed them in the wrong matchups. SPS wisely stayed away from them against the Packers and Seahawks but successfully wagered on them numerous other times this season!
Let's not forget that in the games against Seattle and Green Bay, the spreads were basically a pick'em and Vikings were even favorites at some point as the line fluctated around PK. Those were home games in which there was great pressure and expectation on this squad. Now with their stock at its lowest, there is little pressure on them and they are suddenly taking double-digit points, a great disrespect to what Mike Zimmer has built! This is a team that has thrived in the underdog role and frequently won games outright! While we don't expect them to upset Bruce Arians' Cardinals tonight, they have a better chance than most anticipate. They will come out and play with a point to prove and we foresee them being competitive in this contest. Adrian Peterson has a personal history of bouncing back from poor games (after gaining 40 or less rushing yards) and that is a trait that many others share on this roster.
Anthony Barr is among the players out injured for Minnesota tonight and he'll be missed but this is a defense that still has many of its other key components such as Eric Kendricks, Captain Munnerlyn and the 37-year old veteran Terrence Newman! Sendejo and Harrison Smith have already missed some games and the Vikings have gotten somewhat used to playing without them. We don't believe their absence will be as big a deal as Barr and Joseph's injuries, nonetheless this is a great collective defense and not one that relies on individual talent as much as others. They have their work cut out for them against the best offense in the league tonight but we believe they'll do a good job of containing Arizona for the most part especially since the Cards are lacking depth in the backfield right now with both Andre Ellington and Chris Johnson sidelined. Tight-end Jermaine Gresham is also doubtful to feature in this contest and while they have other capable players in these positions, every little bit adds up and makes covering a spread this big that much more difficult.
Minnesota has thrived in games in which they were not expected to win and playing away from home has often been a blessing as well. In this spot tonight, they are not only angry and determined to bounce back from an ugly loss and show the entire country that they are a better team than they're being given credit for, there is little pressure on them. On the road as double-digit underdogs, all the expectations are with the favorites, Carson Palmer and Arizona tonight. The Vikings can go out there and play more loose and cover this generous spread in 3 different ways: 1) A shocking outright win which proves all doubters wrong. 2) By staying competitive and losing within single-digits in what should be a closer game than most anticipate or finally by the 3rd option which is a backdoor cover. When a team is laying this many points, even a 17-point lead isn't safe late in the 4th quarter. That's because one late meaningless TD and it's Minnesota backers that suddenly cash tickets instead of those laying the inflated price with Arizona. The Cards are the better team but not by this much. They are laying too many points tonight and we expect the Vikings to prove a point and stay within this generous spread one way or another now that they are being written off by everyone and are motivated to show their worth.
Other notable facts to consider:
- Minnesota has covered 8 of 10 spreads when playing with 6 or less days of rest!
- Vikings are 8-3 ATS in games when the total is between 42.5 and 49 points.
- Vikings have scored more points on average and allowed less on the road than at home!
2) Take Iowa at +7.5 spread against Iowa State for 3% of the bankroll.
There is no question that the Iowa State Cyclones have been impressive to start the season. They are currently undefeated, ranked number 4 in the country and have one of the most prolific offenses in the nation. Playing in Ames certainly gives the Cyclones an advantage; however we do believe they are getting just a bit too much respect from the odds makers in this contest.
This is a highly publicized in state rivalry and these games (more often than not) are hard fought contests that are played much closer than the general public expects. It's also worth noting that as well as the Cyclones have played recently, they have had somewhat of a soft schedule in the early going. Their two toughest games to date have come against Colorado and Illinois and they were not dominant in either contest defeating the Buffaloes by just 6-points and the Illini by 11. We believe Iowa is a much better team that either of those aforementioned.
The Hawkeyes are not nearly as flashy on the offensive end as their counterparts, but they have been getting things done on the court. Their only two losses on the season have come on neutral sites against two quality opponents in Dayton (77-82) and Notre Dame (62-68) and as noted, they were competitive in both. The Hawkeyes also have two really impressive blowout wins this season over quality opponents as the routed Marquette on the road 89-61 and a neutral site win over Wichita State by a score of 84-61! While not a blowout, the Hawkeyes also have a win over a quality and very athletic Florida State team. There is no question that Iowa is the more battle tested team at this point in the season and while this will certainly be a tough contest against an elite opponent, however the fact that they have played a much tougher schedule this season should pay dividends in this contest.
Even though the Cyclones have the perceived better offense, which is not statistically the case in this contest. Iowa State shoots a higher percentage from the floor, but it's actually Iowa who has the better numbers from both beyond the arc and even more importantly from the charity stripe! The Hawkeyes ability to shoot the 3 ball well and also make get to the line and make their free throw shots could be critical for them in this contest. They also own an edge when it comes to offensive rebounding. Their ability to crash the boards and get second chance opportunities should allow them to stay competitive in this contest. While Iowa State is arguably the more talented team; this is a lot of points to lay in an in-state rivalry game. Iowa is a scrappy and physical team and we believe they will find a way to stay within this generous spread. The points have the value in this contest.
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