Week 2 offers quite the “Thursday Night Football” matchup with Minnesota Vikings heading on the road to face the Philadelphia Eagles (-6, 49) at Lincoln Financial Field. The Eagles are coming off a narrow 25-20 road victory over New England in Week 1, while the Vikings are looking to avoid the dreaded 0-2 start following a 20-17 season-opening home loss to Tampa Bay.
What can we expect from a betting standpoint for Thursday night’s game?
Betting analysts Tyler Fulghum, Erin Dolan, Eric Moody, Seth Walder and Anita Marks are here to provide their thoughts.
Note: Lines from Caesars Sportsbook unless otherwise indicated.
How much do you weigh Week 1’s results and the Vikings trying to avoid 0-2 in this one?
Moody: It carries significant weight. When you look at the numbers it is very difficult for 0-2 teams to make the playoffs. The Vikings’ game against the Buccaneers last week was a huge disappointment. The Vikings have a very good quarterback in Kirk Cousins, and one of the best wide receiver duos in Justin Jefferson and Jordan Addison, but lost at home to Baker Mayfield and the Buccaneers. We’ll see Minnesota’s desperation on Thursday night as they try to avoid an 0-2 start. Against a Philadelphia defense that has five new starters and a new defensive coordinator, I do believe the Vikings will cover the spread. Last season, the Eagles were 3-4 against the spread when they were favored by six points or more.
Fulghum: It definitely carries some weight. If Minnesota had taken care of business against Tampa Bay as almost a TD favorite, I’m not sure we’d have to lay a full 6 points with Philadelphia in this matchup. Is it a buy-low spot on the Vikings who will be “desperate” to avoid the 0-2 start? Maybe. Ultimately, I do believe Philadelphia is the better team and will win the game, but because the Vikings can play so much better than they did against the Bucs I think it could be a close, competitive game. I advise using the Eagles as one leg in a 6-point teaser. Move through the key numbers of 6-4-3 and create a spread where you’re just asking them to win the game.
Walder: Some weight, though I would say both teams were a little disappointing in Week 1. The difference, though, is in who they were playing. I think we might look back on New England as being a little feisty, and I don’t see that with the Bucs at all. So Week 1 was worse for Minnesota, certainly.
The Eagles won a tight game in Week 1, while the Cowboys and 49ers dominated their opponents. Do the performances by NFC contenders change how you view the Eagles in Futures markets?
Dolan: Not necessarily. It was one week and everything is a case-by-case basis. The 49ers performance surprised me most. Brock Purdy showed that he is capable at stepping up as a quarterback and that offense is no joke, and neither is the defense. The Cowboys had the most jarring box score of Week 1, but I think that is a one-off performance. Eagles got the win on the road (and covered the spread) against one of the greatest coaches of all time. There is a reason the Eagles and 49ers are tied with the Chiefs at +700 to win the Super Bowl.
Fulghum: Not at all. San Francisco, Philadelphia and Dallas are the three best teams in the NFC. The only thing, in my opinion, that will change that belief over the course of the season is injury.
Despite winning 13 games last year, the Vikings didn’t enter the season as NFC North favorites and then lost at home to Tampa Bay on Sunday. How concerned are you about Minnesota as they face an elite team on short rest?
Walder: I guess in the context of their win total last year, extremely concerned? I don’t think anyone paying close attention — including the Vikings themselves, if you look at their offseason! — considered them anywhere close to a 13-win team last year. They were mediocre, which is what they are now. Fans and bettors should not be thinking of Minnesota as a playoff-caliber team.
Justin Jefferson’s receiving prop is 6.5 catches in this game, and A.J. Brown’s is 5.5 catches. Jefferson hauled in nine receptions in Week 1, and Brown caught seven. Are either/both of these bets on your radar?
Moody: Brown’s 5.5 receptions caught my eye, but DeVonta Smith over 5.5 receptions at plus odds is intriguing. The Vikings defense gave up 265.5 passing yards per game last season and ranked dead last in the league in completions per game. Jalen Hurts is much more talented than Buccaneers quarterback Baker Mayfield. The Vikings don’t have much talent for new defensive coordinator Brian Flores to work with in the secondary. Smith has averaged 5.6 receptions and has a 70.3% catch rate over the last 18 games.
Fulghum: They are both on my radar. Jefferson is always a threat to see 12+ targets in a game. And as we saw in Week 1, when the Eagles are in a tight game they will keep putting the ball in the air and targeting their co-alpha WRs. I expect this game to follow a similar script. I don’t think we see the type of game script that so many Philadelphia games followed last year where they have such a big lead in the second half that they rarely throw the football. Jefferson, Brown and Smith are all appealing fantasy options for Week 2. This game, with a 49.0 total, is ripe for offensive production.
Marks: Brown’s OVER 5.5 receptions is on my radar. New defensive coordinator Brian Flores is blitz happy; last year with the Steelers, he blitzed the Eagles 60% of the time and last week vs. Baker and the Bucs he blitzed 47% of the time. When Hurts gets blitzed, he targets Brown 32% of the time. The Vikings secondary allowed the Bucs’ wideouts to have 11 receptions for 121 yards. Brown should see a lot of action Thursday evening.
Is there anything else you are playing on Thursday?
Dolan: Kirk Cousins OVER 37.5 passing attempts. Cousins should be airing the ball out in this prime-time matchup. Last season in a Week 2 prime-time matchup against the Eagles, Cousins had 46 passing attempts in a 24-7 road loss. Cousins was trying to crawl back in that game. In Minnesota’s Week 1 loss to Tampa Bay, he went 33 for 44 with two passing touchdowns and one interception. The Vikings leaned on the passing game rather than the running game with Alexander Mattison posting 34 rushing yards. Minnesota was trying to stay in that game. Mac Jones had 54 passing attempts in the Week 1 loss to the Eagles with the point being, the Patriots had to crawl back in that game. I expect Cousins to be playing from behind in this one, which will force him to throw the ball more. You like that?
Fulghum: T.J. Hockenson OVER 48.5 receiving yards. The Eagles have long been a defense that is OK allowing production to opposing TEs. In Week 1, Hunter Henry caught 5 of 6 targets for 56 yards and a TD against Philadelphia. While Hockenson mustered only 35 yards against the Buccaneers, he did see nine targets and haul in eight receptions. If he sees that type of target volume against Philadelphia, he should see a boost in efficiency to go along with it.
Moody: Jalen Hurts OVER 45.5 rushing yards. The Eagles weren’t at their best on the road in the season opener against the Patriots. In their home opener on Thursday night, Philadelphia is sure to get back in rhythm. Hurts rushed for 57 yards on 11 carries last season against the Vikings. He averaged 50.7 rushing yards in 2022. Hurts is well-positioned to meet or exceed those per game averages on Thursday night.
Marks: Kirk Cousins OVER 37.5 passing attempts. 89% of the Vikings yards came through the air in Week 1 and I expect more of the same Thursday night. The Eagles defensive line is healthy but their secondary is not. Cousins has a plethora of offensive options to work with in the passing game and will be the only way the Vikings stay lockstep with the Eagles.
Marks: T.J. Hockenson OVER 4.5 receptions. Hockenson is a big part of the Vikings passing game this season. He saw nine targets and hauled in eight receptions along with a TD in Week 1. The Eagles will be without LB Nakobe Dean, S Reed Blankenship and CB James Bradberry — this will open up plenty of opportunities for the TE.
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