Broncos vs. Vikings Odds & Picks: Expect A Defensive Showdown in Minnesota?

Broncos vs. Vikings Odds & Picks: Expect A Defensive Showdown in Minnesota? article feature image

Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Mike Zimmer

  • Our experts analyze every betting angle of the Denver Broncos at Minnesota Vikings, complete with odds and picks.

Broncos at Vikings Odds & Picks

  • Odds: Vikings -10.5
  • Over/Under: 40.5
  • Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET
  • TV Channel: CBS

The Vikings return home to face the Broncos after an impressive Sunday Night Football victory over the Cowboys. In an attempt to pick up its fourth win of the season, Denver will trot out quarterback Brandon Allen for his second career NFL start against one of the league’s elite defenses.

Our experts anticipate a low-scoring affair between two teams led by defensive-minded head coaches.

Broncos-Vikings Injury Report

The Broncos had offensive lineman Ja’Waun James (knee) return to limited practice, but he’s had knee trouble all season, so it’s hard to gauge whether he’ll suit up. As of writing, the Broncos are fairly healthy heading into Sunday.

The Vikings, meanwhile, are in rough shape.

Head coach Mike Zimmer said Adam Thielen (hamstring) “has a chance to play” but the wide receiver hasn’t practiced this week. Additionally, defensive lineman Linval Joseph (knee) hasn’t practiced while safety Anthony Harris (groin) was downgraded to no practice on Thursday. Harris checks in as Pro Football Focus’ No. 5 safeties overall this season. Justin Bailey

Note: Info as of Thursday. See our Injury Report for daily practice participation and game statuses up until kickoff.

Biggest Mismatch

Minnesota QB Kirk Cousins vs. Denver QB Brandon Allen

These two teams have similar makeups and defensive-minded head coaches. But what the Broncos don’t have is a quarterback like Kirk Cousins.

The big-money 2018 free agent has taken his fair share of criticism over the years — much of it warranted — but he’s playing highly efficient football that perfectly compliments his team’s defense and run game this season. He’s second in adjusted net yards per attempt (8.41), third in Passer Rating (112.0) and fifth in interception rate (1.1%)

Allen played well in his first start for Denver, but he’s thrown all of 20 NFL passes. His lack of experience will be costly on the road against a Zimmer defense. Chris Raybon

Sean Koerner’s Projected Odds

  • Projected Spread: Vikings -10
  • Projected Total: 40

I took advantage of the market dinging the Broncos about 5.5 points with Allen starting for the injured Joe Flacco. It was roughly 2.5 points more than it should’ve been, and it looks like the market has arrived at the same conclusion.

There doesn’t seem to be much value on the spread here, but under 40.5 could be the play.

With Thielen set to miss his third straight game, the Vikings are likely to use a very run-heavy and conservative game plan to put Denver away. The Broncos are likely going to limit Allen as much as they can while leaning on their strong running game and defense to keep them in the game. Action has been pouring on the over with 84% of the tickets as of writing (see live public betting data here), but the money has been a near 50/50 split, so it’s likely the sharps are leaning toward the under here as well. Sean Koerner

Expert Picks

Matthew Freedman: Vikings -10.5

This spot is very similar to the Vikings-Redskins matchup in Week 8. While Minnesota didn’t cover in that game, it’s worth revisiting.

I’ve been impressed with the Vikings this season, and under Zimmer (since 2014), they’ve offered a strong return on investment in several different scenarios.

They have been a profitable regular-season team to back:

  • At home: 30-13-1, 35.1% ROI
  • As favorites: 34-17-1, 29.3% ROI
  • Outside of division: 41-15-1, 41.8% ROI

These trends make sense within the context of who Zimmer is as a coach and what kind of team the Vikings are.

Zimmer is a risk-averse, process-oriented, defense-directed “manager” (for lack of a better word). As a result, the Vikings are a disciplined team that doesn’t often make big mistakes.

They don’t waste the natural advantage they have at home and they don’t play down to the level of their underdog opponents.

This week, the Vikings are in a “solar eclipse” spot with all of Zimmer’s historical edges lining up. As non-divisional home favorites, the Vikings are 19-3-1 against the spread (66% ROI).

Even though the Broncos are coming off their bye, I still doubt they will be able to keep this game competitive given their dearth of offensive talent.

I bet this at -10, but would take it at -10.5.

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