Numerous critics of Minnesota quarterback Kirk Cousins have been forced to eat a share of humble pie this week after he made the big throws necessary to get his team a narrow victory at New Orleans. Now it’s time to see whether or not Cousins has enough magic in his right arm to earn a second straight upset road victory for his Vikings.
Oddsmakers clearly don’t like Cousins’ chances of coming up aces again. The Vikings were heavy underdogs last weekend against the Saints, and now they are a full seven-point underdogs against San Francisco on Saturday afternoon. On top of this, their Super Bowl odds still sit as high as 16/1, but remember, Jimmy Garoppolo and company will come into the match-up with a full week of rest on their side.
Once again, our exclusive Statschecker Site is here to give you every piece of information you need to make a well-informed wager on this game. This piece will give you five tasty nuggets the site has to offer, but you should visit for yourself to learn everything you can ahead of the intriguing clash.
1. The 49ers are hot against good teams
San Francisco comes into this game having won four of their last five games against teams with a winning record. That really should not surprise you. This team is built to win tough games against high quality opponents.
The blueprint for the 49ers to dominate is to run the ball effectively and suffocate the opposing offense. This defense is one of the most talented groups in the NFL. They will present a huge challenge for Minnesota’s offensive line on Saturday.
2. Don’t forget about the Vikings defense
Cousins and the Minnesota offense have enjoyed a lot of plaudits this week, but this team wouldn’t be in the playoffs at all if not for the efforts of Mike Zimmer’s defense.
It’s not necessarily a dominant group, but you have to respect them for only giving up 19 points per game on the season. If they can hold San Francisco’s offense down to that total or less, they will have a puncher’s chance of scoring another upset.
3. Levi’s Stadium won’t overwhelm the Vikings
Fans of the 49ers will be ready to show up loud and proud on Saturday, but don’t expect their emotion or noise to intimidate the Vikings. After all, Minnesota just managed to win a playoff game in New Orleans.
It’s also worth noting that San Francisco hasn’t been dominant at home on the season. Their 6-2 home record is nice, but it’s actually one game behind their road mark of 7-1. The home field advantage matters a little bit here, but it won’t swing the score massively in either direction.
4. The 49ers offense is better than you think
There are a lot of questions floating around out there as to whether or not Jimmy Garoppolo can come up big for the 49ers offense when called upon. The reality is that he’s piloted a ruthlessly efficient offense all season long.
San Francisco didn’t average 29.9 points per game in the regular season by accident. They don’t have elite personnel all over the field, but they have an elite scheme that Garoppolo can execute with precision. The 49ers defense gets the credit they deserve, but the offense has been excellent this year as well.
5. Both teams are strong against the spread
If you’re hoping that either team’s record against the spread this year will be instructive in betting this game, we’re here to disappoint you. Minnesota comes in at 10-7 against the number while San Francisco finished the regular season at 10-6. It’s safe to say that both teams have exceeded expectations on the season.
Don’t bet on Cousins’ luck to continue
Cousins deserves a lot of credit for silencing some doubters with his big plays down the stretch in New Orleans last week. That doesn’t mean he’s going to reprise his starring role on Saturday against San Francisco.
Instead, look for Garoppolo to emerge as the storyline. He won’t need to make a ton of plays since his run game should enjoy some serious success. However, he will make some touchdown passes that will allow his team to pull away in the end. Take the 49ers to cover, but don’t push the line another point.