The early NFL betting lines for Sunday’s Vikings-Colts matchup have been jumping around like Terry Bradshaw on hot coals. What the heck is going on, and what can bettors do to take advantage of this public uncertainty?
It’s one of the oldest rules
of thumb in sports betting, as in life: The early bird gets the worm. If you’re
doing your shopping well in advance of his weekend’s NFL games, you may have
noticed that the early Week 2 NFL odds listed the Minnesota Vikings anywhere
from pick ‘em to –1.5 in their matchup against the Indianapolis Colts. This
after the Colts opened as high as –2.5 on Sunday.
Those very early NFL odds
happened to be released Sunday afternoon before the Colts (+10 away) were given
a merciless 41-21 beating at the hands of the Chicago Bears. Adding injury to
insult, Indianapolis has a number of key personnel listed as questionable for
Sunday’s home opener at Lucas Oil Stadium. The latest additions: RT Winston
Justice (concussion) and RE/OLB Dwight Freeney (ankle), both considered
week-to-week after getting mauled by the Bears.
These injuries put
Indianapolis in a major bind. Freeney is a seven-time Pro Bowler and one of the
most feared pass rushers in the NFL. He left Sunday’s game early in the first
quarter; Chicago QB Jay Cutler ended up throwing for 333 yards at 9.5 yards per
attempt with a pair of touchdowns. Justice is no Pro Bowler, but at least he’s
a warm body (a 6-foot-6, 320-pound warm body) on an offensive line sorely
lacking in talent.
So welcome to the NFL, Andrew
Luck. His first regular season NFL game was a mixed bag, and the No. 1 pick in
the 2012 draft showed grace under pressure, but also threw a trio of
interceptions and collected much of his 309 yards (6.9 yards per attempt) with
the game well out of reach. How will Luck perform in Week 2 with the undrafted Jeff
Linkenbach starting on the front five?
Meanwhile, there’s a promising
young quarterback in Minnesota you may have head of. Christian Ponder was
excellent in last Sunday’s 26-23 overtime victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars
(+3.5 away), going pick-free with 270 yards through the air on 20-of-27
passing. And RB Adrian Peterson showed no ill effects from last year’s knee
injury with 84 yards rushing (4.9 yards per carry) and a pair of touchdowns.
Add it all up, and Minnesota
had the eighth-best offensive performance of Week 1 according to the efficiency
numbers at Football Outsiders. The Colts defense, minus Freeney, came in at No.
25 out of the 32 NFL teams. One game is a very small sample size indeed, but
it’s easy to see why the early birds are jumping on the Vikings for Week 2.
Minnesota fans also saw a
command performance from rookie place-kicker Blair Walsh. The former Georgia
Bulldog was respected enough to be drafted in the sixth round this year, and he
rewarded the Vikings by connecting on all four of his field-goal attempts.
Included in those 12 points: a 55-yarder with no time on the clock to send the
game into overtime, and another from 38 yards for the victory. Minnesota is
rolling the dice a bit here after cutting veteran kicker Ryan Longwell
(22-of-28 last year), who was losing leg strength at age 38. Walsh’s heroics
make the Vikings look like geniuses. We shall see.
Our early NFL odds for Week 2
have the Vikings at –119 on the moneyline. Keep checking in for totals and
further line movements throughout the week.
Free NFL Pick: Minnesota -1.5