I like the Patriots to beat Carolina by two touchdowns this week. And if Mac Jones continues to develop and play the way he’s been playing New England will be back in the mix for years to come.
I also like the Rams to dominate the Titans on Sunday night, with Derrick Henry out. The Rams are probably the best team in the NFL.
And throw in the Raiders and Giants getting into a shootout on Sunday.
Those are my three locks this week.
Now. The Minnesota Vikings.
Tough tough week last week.
Calls for the firing of Coach Zimmer are everywhere. Fans are jumping off the wagon all across the country.
The offense can’t do this, the defense can’t do that, miscommunications everywhere etc, etc, etc.
Then the Ravens, featuring the most athletic player in the league, show up on the schedule and the Vikings have to travel to Baltimore without three of their best defensive players and starting center.
All signs point to a Baltimore blowout.
Vegas started the Ravens as 5 point favorites and the line already shot up to 6.5 at the time of this post.
The smart money is on Baltimore. But I’m gonna go the other way here.
Simple. Simple. Simple.
That’s the phrase the Vikings will implement and use most often while game planning for Baltimore this week.
The two things that have always amazed me about Mike Zimmer, for the entirety of his career in Minnesota, are (1) when he gets cute and thinks he’s clever, complicates/overthinks things, and steps out of his comfort zone in his game planning, his team gets crushed…personnel be damned. And (2) when he plays his basic base defense, gets guys focused and prepared to do the simple things during the week, and sticks to what has been working (if it ain’t broke don’t fix it) his team usually wins…Personnel be damned.
Three things I know sure will happen in Baltimore Sunday…
- Minnesota will run the ball on first and second down all day and night, with the intent of producing positive plays and keeping Lamar Jackson on the sidelines. Dalvin Cook’s not gonna have much tread on his tires after the game.
- The Vikings conscious commitment to running the football will put the team in many 3rd and short situations. Third down effectiveness on offense and defense will be a big focal point for the Vikings this week. Look for Kirk Cousins to feel that sense of urgency and keep drives going by using his legs to pick up a few of those first downs on his own. BOLD PREDICTION: At least once in this game one of the announcers will say something like “Well we all knew about Lamar Jackson’s running ability coming into this game, but who would have thought we’d be talking about Kirk Cousin’s ability to make plays with his feet in this one…?” etc. I expect Kirk to fire up the team by putting his head down a couple times and diving for the sticks.
- Minnesota will win this game, flipping the script on the narrative of this team’s season in the process.
This game has Mike Zimmer unexpected rebound victory written all over it.
Simple Simple. Simple.
SEASON LOCK RECORD: 7-5
SEASON VIKINGS RECORD: 5-2 (6-1 ATS)