NFL Predictions, Picks, Odds: Experts Like Chargers and Vikings To Cover vs. Broncos and 49ers, Plus Over/Under
Elsa/Getty Images. Pictured: Vikings WR Justin Jefferson
Chargers at Broncos
Brandon Anderson: Suddenly, the Chargers offense looks like it has figured things out. After struggling on early downs for the first half of the season, they now rank top-five among pass-heaviest teams on early downs and top-five in early passing down EPA over the last five weeks at RBSDM. All the better that they’re still top-five in late downs, too.
It turns out your offense is pretty good when you rank top-five on both early and late downs, and sure enough, the Chargers now rank third in Football Outsiders’ offensive DVOA. Justin Herbert looked like a future MVP last Sunday night the way he picked apart the Steelers’ defense. The way he’s playing right now, that future might not be too far away.
The Broncos defense has struggled against top offenses and the Chargers are definitely that right now. Brandon Staley knows just how to attack a Vic Fangio defense because his guys practice against it every day. The Broncos offense is playing better lately, too, but they might have to win a shootout here. And they won’t be able to dominate on the ground against a bad run defense with LT Garrett Bolles in COVID protocol.
These division rivals have split the season series four of the last five years, with eight of the 10 games one-score affairs. Combine that with a road division favorite, and it often means taking the underdog, but I just think the Chargers are the much better team right now.
Denver is coming out of the bye, but favorites against rested home division underdogs are 22-12 against the spread (ATS), covering 65% of the time.
Vikings at 49ers
Chris Raybon: This is a matchup between relatively evenly-matched teams, with both sitting at 6.7 estimated wins while ranking in the top 11 in overall DVOA.
However, this is a bigger letdown spot for San Francisco, as home teams .500 or worse coming off a blowout win of more than 15 points are just 17-29-2 (37%) ATS. What’s more, under Kyle Shanahan, the 49ers are just 9-19-1 (32%) ATS as a favorite when not coming off a bye. That includes an abysmal 2-13-1 (13%) ATS mark as a home favorite. The 49ers are just 1-4 straight-up at home this season.
Meanwhile, Mike Zimmer’s teams tend to come to play in these spots — he’s 33-20 (62%) as an underdog, including a 23-15 (61%) ATS mark as a road dog.
Vikings at 49ers
Raheem Palmer: The Vikings are still the only team to hold a seven-point lead in every single game this season. With Kirk Cousins ranking ninth in EPA + CPOE and surrounded by weapons in Justin Jefferson, Adam Theilen and Dalvin Cook, this is an offense that can score with the best offenses in the league.
This week they’ll be matched up against a 49ers pass defense that is just 20th in DVOA and 21st in EPA/play. This 49ers defense can be passed on and while we didn’t see it against the Jaguars and Rams the last two weeks, we’re going to see this Vikings offense find some success in this matchup. This is a still a 49ers team that allowed Colt McCoy to throw for 249 yards on 22-of-26 pass attempts and James Conner to rush for 96 yards and two touchdowns in a game where the 49ers pulled a complete no show against a Cardinals team with no Kyler Murray or DeAndre Hopkins.
Kyle Shanahan has particularly struggled in the role as a favorite as the 49ers are just 10-22-1 (31%) ATS during his five-year tenure. Nonetheless, I’m not buying what we saw from the 49ers these past two weeks.
I believe the Vikings are the better team and with my model making this game -1, I’ll back the Vikings for the third consecutive week and fourth time in the last five weeks. I like them down to +2.5 (check real-time NFL odds here).
Vikings at 49ers
Sean Koerner: The 49ers offense has excelled at methodical, clock-killing drives the past couple of games. In Week 10, they opened up against the Rams with an 18-play, 88-yard drive that lasted for 11 minutes. Last week, they had a 20-play, 87-yard drive that took 13 minutes off the clock.
I’m expecting them to have similar success against a Vikings defensive line that will be without Danielle Hunter, Dalvin Tomlinson and Everson Griffen. Keeping Kirk Cousins, Dalvin Cook, Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen on the sidelines is only going to help lower the scoring environment for this game. Therefore, I’m projecting it closer to 47 and like it down to 48.5.