Tag Archives: Minnesota Vikings

Best NFL Bets for Week 8

The weekend is finally here, which means it is time to place your NFL bets! Last week, we went 1-2 for the fifth straight week. We got burned by a fourth quarter offensive explosion in New England, and a second-half offensive freeze-up from the Cardinals. That brings us to a paltry 8-12-1 on the season for the NFL portion of our Best Bets series. In terms of units, we only dropped 0.76 for the weekend, which puts us down 1.58 units on the year.

We aren’t too far gone yet. Getting back to positive is still within striking distance. This week’s match-ups look pretty ugly, but it all pays out just the same. All lines come via Draft Kings as of Friday evening. Also, be sure to catch my, and my fellow ATB bettors’, locks and underdogs of the week on Around The Book. Let’s get started and dive into the best NFL bets for Week 8!

Photo Credit: Clutchpoints.com

Texans at Panthers: Panthers ML (+145)

Let’s kick things off with a (mildly) hot take. This is finally going to be the week in which the Panthers get their first win of the season. It won’t be easy. The Texans are better than expected this year. However, there is reason to believe Carolina can get it done.

As well as Houston is playing this year, this is still very much a rebuilding team. They don’t have a ton of high-level talent, and their rookie quarterback is still developing. There are no easy wins for a team in their position.

The Panthers are in a very similar boat. While they haven’t played quite as well as the Texans, it feels like that win is right around the corner. This pick is rooted more in vibes than data, but sometimes that’s what you need.

Vikings at Packers: Over 42 (-108)

We are switching it up this week and betting on the over. While this NFC North match-up may be ugly, it has significant potential for points. The Vikings have an offense that can put up points and a defense that struggles to stop anyone. On the flip side, Green Bay is average to below-average on both sides of the ball.

Minnesota should have no problem scoring against the Packers. Also, Green Bay should be able to score more than usual against a weak Vikings defense. It doesn’t hurt that we get the added chaos of a divisional matchup.

The most advantageous part of this pick is the line. At 42, it is clear the bookies are trying to adjust to all the low-scoring games we’ve seen this year. This is the time to pounce. Expect both of these teams to be somewhere in the mid 20s. The over may not hit by a lot, but it will get there. That is all that matters.

Chargers at Bears: Over 46.5 (-110)

Let’s keep the over bets going with some Sunday night fireworks. Both of these teams can score, and neither play great defense. Also, it seems as though the Bears offense hasn’t missed a beat with Tyson Bagent at quarterback in place of the injured Justin Fields.

Offensively, the Bears and Chargers combine to average a little over 46 points per game. That doesn’t look great for the over, but it gets a lot better when you look at the defenses. On that side of the ball, these two teams give up over 52 points per game combined.

It is hard to say who will win this game, but we know there will be plenty of scoring. This game will likely be a race to 30 points. Hammer the over.

Week 8 NFL Best Bets Recap

  • Panthers ML (+145)
  • Vikings @ Packers: Over 42 (-108)
  • Chargers @ Bears: Over 46.5 (-110)
  • Parlay odds: +800
Kirk Cousins walks off field after Vikings fall to 0-3

Finding Hope in the Vikings 0-3 Start

The Minnesota Vikings have squandered a golden opportunity and started the season 0-3. Trade rumors are swirling around quarterback Kirk Cousins. The offensive line is a veritable turnstile. Teams who start the season 0-3 have a miniscule chance of making the playoffs, and an even worse chance at having success in them. It seems like all hope is lost for the 2023 squad, right?

In the immortal words of Third Eye Blind’s Stephan Jenkins, “I wish you would step back from that ledge, my friend”. Call it naivety. Call it blind-ass-fan syndrome. Whatever you want to call it, I believe that there’s still hope for the Vikings this season, and that the 0-3 start isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Let’s take a look at each of these points and try to find the silver lining.

Kirk Cousins walks off field after Vikings fall to 0-3
Photo Credit: AP Photo/Abbie Parr

Trading Kirk Cousins doesn’t make sense

It makes sense that the rumor mill is abuzz with speculation about Kirk Cousins, particularly when it comes to the New York Jets. The Vikings have started off 0-3, have a lot of good, young pieces on the roster, and have an aging quarterback who doesn’t necessarily fit the vision for the future. On the other side, you have a talented team who felt they were a quarterback away, swung for the fences to get him, and had him go down with a season-ending injury. The marriage makes perfect sense, right?

As Lee Corso would say, “not so fast, my friends”. Despite the Vikings’ 0-3 start, Kirk Cousins is playing at a high level this season. And despite what history may say, this season is still salvageable. We’ll have more on that point in a minute. For right now, let’s just look at the Cousins-to-Jets trade rumors at a surface level. The need is there for the Jets, for sure, but why would the Vikings bail on Cousins at this juncture? What would they get out of the deal?

If we’re looking at the Aaron Rodgers trade as a baseline, the Packers swapped first-round picks with the Jets, and New York picked up two second-round picks (and a sixth, but that’s largely irrelevant) in the trade. One of those seconds could have become a first, were it not for the injury, but the injury happened so that’s what the compensation will be. It’s unlikely that Cousins would fetch as high a price as the four-time MVP and former Super Bowl champion, so where is the incentive to make a deal?

As it stands today, the Vikings are sitting in the third spot in the 2024 NFL draft. This year’s class looks to be a relatively strong one at the position, with the likes of Caleb Williams, Drake Maye, and Michael Penix headlining the class. With Minnesota already in prime position to grab one of the top guys and prepare for the future, why would they tank the present for minimal return? They wouldn’t – and they shouldn’t.

The offensive line isn’t as bad as you think

One of the biggest – if not THE biggest – pain points during the 0-3 start for the Vikings has been the performance of the offensive line. Particularly the interior offensive line. It seems like every other dropback, Cousins is running for his life out there or taking a big hit/sack. It’s not just in the pass game, either.

So far through three weeks, the Vikings haven’t been able to get much going on the ground, either. Alexander Mattison was supposed to revitalize the Vikings run game in the wake of Dalvin Cook’s departure, and that simply hasn’t happened. But how much of that poor performance is actually placed at the offensive linemen’s feet?

The fact that the Vikings went out and signed former Broncos offensive lineman Dalton Risner would suggest that a healthy portion of the issue is the offensive line, right? The eye test may even confirm that notion, but does that really hold up to scrutiny Advanced metrics and position grading seem to suggest our eyes are lying to us, at least to a degree.

Despite what it may feel like, the Vikings offensive line is actually – at least analytically – performing quite well so far this season. The Vikings offensive line ranks fourth in the league in pass protection when looking at a weighted average of PFF grades, ESPN’s pass block win rate metric, and the SIS data. When looking at the run blocking ratings, again the Vikings rank within the top 5, coming in right at the number 5 spot. That tells a drastically different story than popular narrative.

This isn’t your father’s 0-3 team

With most 0-3 teams, you could see it coming. A lot of them are in that football purgatory of trying to transition to the next era of their team. They aren’t competitive, and the season feels lost from the very outset. There are a number of teams like that in the 2023 NFL season: The Bears and Broncos chief among them. This year’s Vikings team doesn’t have that feeling.

This is a team that could easily be 2-1, if not 3-0, had a couple of things broken their way. I would go out on a limb and say they would easily be talked about as one of the better teams in the league right now if they had three turnovers on the year instead of nine. That’s been the biggest factor in this team’s downfall, and it’s completely fixable. Turnovers are largely unreliable in the NFL, and at some point the Vikings turnover luck has to turn over. It’s simply unsustainable – and unreasonable – for them to keep this rate up.

If and when the turnovers settle down, the Vikings should be in good position to make a rebound. The offense, despite the giveaways, is playing really well. Justin Jefferson is on pace to smash all the single-season receiving records. Jordan Addison is showing all the promise and then some in his rookie campaign. KJ Osborn has flashed as a really good third option.

What’s killing this team right now is a combination of the turnovers and conservative gameplay. It’s really hard to win games in the NFL. It’s nearly impossible to win them when you’re turning the ball over three times a game. Combine that with a success rate (plays with positive EPA) well below 50%, and you have the Vikings current predicament. 

What’s the solution? That’s above my pay grade. But it would seem like Cousins and the Vikings offense needs to put a little more faith in the guys up front, and maybe take the high-school approach of carrying the ball around town with them to get used to hanging on to it. Push the ball downfield more and stop giving it away, and we’re talking about this team very differently. There is hope, I promise.

The Minnesota Vikings Trade For Rams RB Cam Akers

In a very busy Wednesday afternoon in the NFL, the day was capped off with a trade that sent a running back who fell out of favor with his current team, to a team that has struggled desperately running the football. Cam Akers has been the center of trade talks from the Rams for the last year, and Wednesday evening the Rams finally moved on from the former second-round pick sending him to the Minnesota Vikings, as well as a 2026 7th round pick, for a 2026 6th round pick.

Photo Credit: Ben VanHouten / Associated Press

What The Cam Akers Trade Means For Los Angeles

It has seemed like Akers has fallen out of favor with LA for the better part of the last year. From being inactive several weeks last season around the trade deadline, the rumored character issues, and arguments with Rams management, all those fators combined with the emergence of second year back Kyren Williams was the end of the line for his Akers’ Rams tenure.

This deal does not change much for the Rams a whole. They get a late-round pick for a player they no longer felt fit their team, and they get to move forward with Kyren Williams are their primary starter for the foreseeable future. The real intrigue comes from the other team involved in the Cam Akers trade: The Minnesota Vikings.

What This Deal Means For Minnesota

After moving on from Dalvin Cook in the off-season, Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah put the faith of his running backs room in the hands of fifth year back Alexander Mattison. After four seasons of being the complementary piece to Cook in the offense, and showing flashes of play-making ability during that span, Kwesi gave Mattison a contract extension with the hopes he could replace some of the load lost with Cook’s departure.

Through two weeks, that has not been the case at all. Mattison is averaging just 3 yards per carry and has only one rush for a first down all season — and had a costly fumble in last week’s 34-28 loss in Philadelphia. Minnesota currently ranks dead last in the league with a not-so-nice 69 rushing yards through two weeks. So what does the trade for Cam Akers mean for Minnesota and how should it be viewed?

Pros Of The Cam Akers Trade

Before diving into specifics of the player, the fit, and the role of Akers on the offense itself, just by looking at this trade on paper Kwesi has made another stellar move. Getting Cam Akers, a 24 year old with upside, for just a 2026 sixth-round pick is a great move.

Kwesi has made similar moves like this in his Vikings tenure already. Last season he traded a mid-round pick to Philadelphia for Jalen Reagor, and also moved a late-round pick to Houston for Ross Blacklock. Did those moves pan out the way Vikings fans wanted them to? No. But Kwesi being unafraid to make moves like these is something Vikings fans should applaud and appreciate.

This trade will allow Mattison to move back into a secondary role, where he has performed better in the majority of his career — when Dalvin Cook was still in purple. Presumably Mattison will start this weekend against the Chargers while Akers gets adapted to the system, playbook, and nuances of a very complicated offense. But, after a week or two, Akers could very well step into that starting role moving forward.

The familiarity with this system is another reason this move is a good one for Minnesota. Akers played under Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell during the 2020 and 2021 seasons, while he was the offensive coordinator of the Rams, and has had success with KOC as his primary play caller before. This should make the transition for Akers smooth and easier, which could get him on the field in a more high-capacity role sooner rather than later.

Vikings fans are split on this move, and I personally have my reservations as well (which we will get to later in this article) but let’s face it: The run game couldn’t get much worse. A move in some capacity was bound to happen sooner or later, and after Kareem Hunt signed with Cleveland earlier Wednesday morning, the Vikings did not have a ton of upgrade options available to them that fit the scheme, besides Akers. There is virtually no risk to this trade, as the team only gave up a sixth rounder in 2026, and the reward could be Akers returning to his old form that we saw earlier in his Rams tenure, before the Achilles injury.

The Reservations Of The Cam Akers Trade

On paper there are not any “Cons” to this deal. Minnesota got a potential starting RB and a potential upgrade to their bad run game for a very late round draft pick that is not for another two years. However, there are some things that Vikings fans should be weary of and take note of in the wake of the Cam Akers trade.

As mentioned before, Kwesi has not been shy about trading away draft picks for players who need a change of scenery. Reagor and Blacklock were both acquired last season with the hopes they could revitalize their career in Minnesota, and both were unsuccessful and were waived this off-season. Will Cam Akers have the same fate?

That seems unlikely. However, as much as we can appreciate and commemorate Kwesi’s ability to make these moves, we can also be weary after the mixed results these moves have produced for Minnesota so far.

Akers, like Mattison, is also very inefficient and performs better as a secondary piece rather than a lead back. In Week 1, Akers averaged an abysmal 1.3 yards per carry on 22 attempts. That led to his healthy scratch in Week 2. Vikings fans may need to lower their expectations for Akers in this deal; this isn’t a trade for a bell-cow, workhorse back. This is a trade for a piece to help complement Mattison and hopefully get the ground game going in the right direction.

Final Thoughts

On paper, the Cam Akers trade is a win for both parties The Rams got rid of a player they no longer wanted in their organization, and Kwesi, yet again using his “Moneyball” mentality, gets a young player with potential for very little draft capital.

The Vikings run game could not get much worse, so bringing in Akers — or anybody else — was going to happen at some point. The move happening this early in the season is a sign the front office and coaching staff believe this team can turn their 0-2 start around fairly quickly.

What this means for the Vikings as far as the direction of their franchise past this year has yet to be determined, but it is going to be a lot of fun to follow.

Minnesota Vikings Sign WR N’Keal Harry

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Duane Burleson

The Minnesota Vikings have agreed to terms with former Arizona State standout wide receiver N’Keal Harry. Harry had a stellar career for the Sun Devils, topping 1000 yards twice in his three years and amassing 22 touchdowns. Those stats, along with his ability to be a big-play possession receiver garnered Harry much praise from the scouting community. Enough for the New England Patriots to make him a first-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.

Unfortunately for Harry, he was never able to replicate the college production at the NFL level. Injuries and poor performance marred his Patriots career, to the tune of only 18 starts over three seasons. After the 2021 season, the Patriots parted ways with Harry, who ended up in Chicago.

The story in Chicago was much the same as New England for Harry. Harry struggled to see the field for a team who had a dearth of talent at the position, speaking volumes for his development so far in the league. In just one season with the Bears, Harry didn’t get a single start, and was only good for seven receptions and one touchdown. Now, Harry hopes to turn his fortunes around with another NFC North team, the Vikings.

Whether Harry has what it takes to make the Vikings final 53-man roster is a valid question. To this point in his career, Harry has bounced around the league and has not consistently shown the talent he flashed in his college days. However, there’s reason to believe that talent is still there. With Adam Thielen now in Carolina, the Vikings could benefit from having a big, speedy possession receiver in the mix.

If N’Keal Harry can be the receiver he was for Arizona State, he can open up the offense for Kirk Cousins, Justin Jefferson, and a potent Vikings offense. Only time will tell if Harrry is able to tap into that potential, but at this point in the season the risk is worth the reward.

Vikings running back Dalvin Cook is the focus of persistent trade rumors

Top 3 Trade Destinations for Dalvin Cook

Vikings running back Dalvin Cook is the focus of persistent trade rumors
Photo Credit: Stephen Maturen/GettyImages

One of the most persistent storylines of the NFL offseason has circled around the Minnesota Vikings and the future of their star running back, Dalvin Cook. The trade winds have swirled for months, and the rumors just don’t seem to go away. Cook has been linked to a number of teams during this saga. Yet, for now, he remains in Minnesota. 

It feels like it’s only a matter of time before the Vikings ship Cook off somewhere, but where? Here are the top three trade destinations as I see them for Cook, with a wildcard thrown in just for fun – and maybe some chaos!

Dalvin Cook Trade Destinations: Top 3

Arizona Cardinals

For my money, the Arizona Cardinals make the most sense to pull off a trade with the Vikings for Dalvin Cook. They are a team that has been making moves for a couple of years, trying to make that next leap into consistent playoff relevance.

The Cards have their quarterback of the future, Kyler Murray. They have a star wide receiver in Deandre Hopkins – who has his own trade rumors swirling. A consistent threat at the running back position could be the piece they need to put it all together.

One of the big things holding the Cardinals back is health. Kyler Murray is set to miss the beginning portions of the season. Current starting running back James Conner has had an extensive injury history in the NFL. Cook has had his own injury history, but he’s mostly been able to battle through and be a consistent presence in the Vikings backfield. If he can provide that for the Cardinals, they may have what it takes to compete with the 49ers for the division.

Dallas Cowboys

I’ll be the first one to admit that, on the surface, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for the Dallas Cowboys to pursue a trade for Dalvin Cook. They seem poised to move on from their cornerstone running back Ezekiel Elliott after a significant dip in his production.

Bringing in another aging, slowing running back would be questionable decision-making, to say the least. Add in the fact that they just signed running back Tony Pollard to a franchise tag deal, and it makes even less sense.

On the other hand, we all know who runs the Cowboys: Jerry Jones. Jones has always been one to make flashy, high-profile moves – whether it makes sense for the team or not. At this point in the NFL offseason, he couldn’t pull off a flashier move than making a trade with the Vikings for Cook.

Do I think it will happen? No. But will I be surprised if Jones up and decides he absolutely has to have Cook, damn the cost? Also no.

Miami Dolphins

The Miami Dolphins are the team most heavily connected to the Vikings in a trade for Dalvin Cook. The rumors have been floating about for months, and just when you think they’ve died out, they come back with a vengeance. On the surface, trading Cook to the Dolphins makes some sense.

Miami has been making a hard push in a competitive AFC. They traded for former Kansas City Chiefs star wide receiver Tyreek Hill and Broncos defensive end Bradley Chubb last season. Earlier this offseason, they traded with the Los Angeles Rams to bring in Jalen Ramsey. What’s one more trade, right?

The problem with this scenario is two-fold. The first and most obvious thing is that trading for a running back doesn’t make much sense for a team that has already expended so many resources making a push. The second issue is that Cook doesn’t really fit the mold of what this new Dolphins team is after. With the guys they’ve brought in and drafted over the past few seasons, they clearly have one thing in mind: Speed.

That being said, bringing in a running back like Cook could provide the Dolphins with some much-needed versatility in the backfield. Right now, they don’t have a back who fits that traditional “thumper” mold like Cook could. If brought in, Cook could provide the perfect complement to guys like Raheem Mostert, Jeff Wilson, and third-round pick De’Von Achane.

Dalvin Cook Trade Destinations: Wild Card

San Francisco 49ers

Out of all the options we’ve explored for a Vikings trade of Dalvin Cook, this one probably makes the least sense – but is also the most fun. That’s why this is my wildcard option. The 49ers are almost assuredly not going to trade for Cook. They have a potent offense already with Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, and George Kittle – the best tight end in football.

They also just played this game last season, making a trade with the Carolina Panthers for Christian McCaffrey. Not only does it not make sense for the 49ers to turn around and expend more assets at the position, but McCaffrey is also a much better fit for what the 49ers want to do on offense. It would be a pipe dream to think San Francisco would be interested in trading for Cook, much less be willing to pull it off.

And yet, one can’t help but dream. Cook would add a new dimension to the 49ers’ offense they don’t currently have. The offense in San Francisco is already so innovative and fun. Can you imagine what Kyle Shanahan could come up with if he had the ever-present threat of simply running the ball down a team’s throat? Cook could open that offense up even further with his presence alone, and that’s fun enough to include here.