The Minnesota Vikings were the biggest surprise of the NFL’s Wildcard Round and now try for another upset visiting the San Francisco 49ers in the Divisional Round of the playoff Saturday.
Sports Handicappers have the 49ers as 7-point home favorites for this second-round matchup. If you’re betting on the odds for Minnesota at San Francisco, here are the angles and edges to work into your handicapping.
The key to Minnesota’s victory over New Orleans was its running game, which pounded the football for 136 yards on the ground but more importantly ate up almost 37 minutes in time of possession. That didn’t give the Saints’ explosive offense much time with the football.
Vikings running back Dalvin Cook looked strong and fresh after sitting out the two game prior to the postseason, and now goes up against a San Francisco defense allowing 4.5 yards per carry on the season.
The 49ers have a similar run-based attack on offense and will be looking to do the same thing to Minnesota. On the year, San Francisco rushed for more than 144 yards per game – second most in the NFL – and ranked as the sixth-best team in terms of controlling possession.
The Vikings defense was inconsistent at times this year, allowing 4.3 yards per carry on the season but giving up 5.3 ypc over their last three games. Whichever team can establish the run first, has the best chance of covering this spread.
The 49ers were able the earn the bye as the top seed in the NFC and that could allow the defense to return some vital members before Saturday’s playoff game. San Francisco is hoping the time of will get safety Jaquiski Tartt, defensive lineman Dee Ford, and linebacker Kwon Alexander healthy enough.
San Francisco was among the top stop units in the NFL on the season but started to come apart as injuries mounted toward the end of the schedule. The 49ers allowed only 14.8 points per game through to Week 13 but came apart for an average of 31.8 points in the final four games of the season.
The Vikings do have the ability to strike for big points, with a talented group of receivers. Stefon Diggs is always a threat for a big gains and Adam Thielen looked like his old self in the Wild Card Round, catching seven balls for 129 yards. On top of that, you have a tall red-zone target in tight end Kyle Rudolph, who caught the game-winning touchdown in overtime this past weekend.
The Over/Under betting total for Saturday’s Divisional Round game is set at 44.5 points. Minnesota comes into this second-round game with a 9-8 O/U record on the season and is 5-4 O/U as the road team. San Francisco is 8-7-1 O/U this season, with a 5-3 O/U mark at home.
The Under has been the smart bet when these teams have met in the past, with the Vikings and 49ers going Under in five of their last six games, including three straight Unders going back to 2012.