Will Jared Allen have his way on Thursday? (Vikings.com)
This year, in addition to picking the rest of the games each week, we will have a special every Thursday, picking only that game, and providing you with a special prop bet that you will be sure to enjoy. To keep track of all of our picks each week, click here to go to the Weekly Picks With Spreads page, where we will total up our win-loss record each week and show you who is atop the leader board. Without further ado, here are our opinions on tonight’s first game:
@MIN (-6.5) vs. TB
Evan – email@example.com – @Evan_TFJ
Minnesota Vikings (-6.5)
I’ve been a major proponent of Tampa Bay all season, but they’ve been a little bit disappointing. They’re sitting unhappily at 2-4, but they could easily be at least .500, if not 4-2, considering how many close games they’ve lost. Last week, they scored the game tying touchdown, but it was ruled a penalty because wide receiver Tiquan Underwood was pushed out of bounds before he caught the ball in bounds. They destroyed Kansas City the week before last, but who hasn’t? All of their losses are to talented teams this year: NYG, DAL, WAS, and NO. With that said, I believe Minnesota is a talented team. Adrian Peterson looks like he hasn’t skipped a beat, Percy Harvin has been an absolute monster for total yardage, and Christian Ponder seems to be improving as a game manager each week. Plus, the defense is starting to step up in big ways, including rookie Harrison Smith, who pick-sixed John Skelton last week to save the game for the Vikings. Even though I think TB is a decent team, I think Minnesota will have a big advantage at home and will use this game to make a statement: they are a legitimate team this season, and they will not go down easy.
Over/Under 0.5: Number of times they replay last week’s ending play against NO when Underwood “scored” the TD.
Jared – firstname.lastname@example.org – @Jared_TFJ
Minnesota Vikings (-6.5)
I can’t believe I am saying this, but I am actually excited to see the Bucs play the Vikings. This is going to be another display of strength versus strength. The Vikings love to pound the ball, rushing for over 130 yards a game through All Day AP. He is a freak of nature, and I am eager to see what he can do to a defense who is only giving up 76 rushing yards a game. I suspect he Vikings will have some success, because AP is that good, but most of their success will come through Percy Harvin. He is an exceptional athlete and he can win the game for you in so many ways. The Bucs struggle to defend the pass, so we should see quite a bit of that on Thursday, and I am a little worried about Tampa Bay. They are coming off a pretty emotional loss. They played their asses off and couldn’t finish, so I don’t know how focused they are on a short week. The Vikings have a very tough defense, and I don’t think the Bucs will get much done. 6.5 points is a lot in the NFL, though. But if Tampa comes out as flat as I think they will, the Vikings should have no problem covering. I am taking Minnesota on this one.
Over/Under 4.0: Number of Jon “Chucky” Gruden references to his days as the Bucs head coach.
Erik – email@example.com – @Erik_TFJ
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+6.5)
I refuse to pick Minnesota to cover almost a touchdown spread versus anyone. They covered last week versus Arizona, but the Cardinals were down to their third string quarterback. Tampa Bay isn’t good, but they’re not terrible, either. I don’t see any reason why they can’t hang around and at worst case offer up a back-door cover late in the 4th. Minnesota hasn’t proven to be a consistent team yet, and they definitely haven’t proven to be capable of covering 6.5 point spreads with regularity. Josh Freeman was almost able to keep up with Drew Brees last week in a shootout, throwing for 420 yards and three touchdowns. Minnesota’s defense obviously isn’t as pathetic as New Orleans’, but they’re not exactly the re-incarnation of the Purple People eaters, either. Take the points in what should be a decently competitive game.
Over/Under 1.5: Number of times replays are shown of Tampa knocking over Eli on a kneel-down…
All spreads taken from Yahoo! Pro Football Pick’Em