The Seahawks, Jags, Saints, and Chiefs will be coming off byes heading into Week 6, and you can find out what to expect from them in last week’s article.
This week, the Buccaneers and Vikings get a rest. Both enter their bye week coming off of a win, and each squad will be on the road when they return to action.
While Minnesota might not want to rest just yet – they’re rolling at 5-0 and have significant momentum – now is a good time for a break for the Bucs, who are missing several starters due to injury.
Let’s take a closer look at both teams and how they should perform when they’re back in action.
Over the first five weeks, the Bucs (2-3 SU, 2-3 ATS) lost three straight games in between divisional road victories; they beat Atlanta (31-24) in Week 1, and enter their bye flying high following a last-second victory at Carolina (17-14) on Monday night. The other three games were horrendous; they were drubbed at Arizona (40-7), lost at home to the Rams (37-22), and were overwhelmed by Denver (27-7) again at home. They didn’t come close to covering in any of the setbacks.
The off-week hasn’t been kind to Tampa lately. The team has lost three straight following their bye week. Last season, they fell to Washington (31-30). However, this is head coach Dirk Koetter’s first season with full control. He was on the Tampa staff last year, but the previous three years as the offensive coordinator with the Falcons, Atlanta posted three straight wins coming off a bye.
Jameis Winston and the Bucs offense has been average passing the ball this year and mediocre on the ground. However, the return of running backs Doug Martin and Charles Sims should help in the near future. On defense, they are allowing 28.4 points per game, which is bottom-five in the NFL. The return of linemen Robert Ayers, Gerald McCoy, and Clinton McDonald should help the team improve considerably in that department. All five are impact players, and they could all return when Tampa travels to San Francisco on October 23.
Following that trip west, the Bucs play Oakland, Atlanta, and Chicago at home. If healthy, they can easily go 3-1 or 4-0 in those games.
The Vikings (5-0 SU, 5-0 ATS) are the last perfect team in the NFL (both SU and ATS). Minnesota started the year with a win (25-16) in Tennessee that featured two defensive touchdowns. In Week 2, they beat Green Bay at home (17-14) thanks in large part to forcing three turnovers. In Week 3, a special teams score and three Panther turnovers led to a win in Charlotte (22-10). Weeks 4 and 5 featured two dominant performances against the Giants (24-10) and Texans (31-13). Minnesota has forced a league-high 12 turnovers and given the ball away just once, which is also best in the league.
Coach Mike Zimmer is in his third year with the Vikings. In 2014, his team fell to Chicago (21-13) after a bye; last year, they beat Kansas City (16-10). Top wide receiver Stefon Diggs will be back in the lineup when the Vikings return to action in Philadelphia. That game is the first of two on the road as the Vikes travel to Chicago in Week 8. They return home to face Detroit thereafter and then travel to Washington.
Minnesota’s upcoming schedule is not gruelling, despite the three road tilts. The offense still has its limitations, but as a whole, the Vikings certainly look like one of the best teams in the league. That said, bettors see undefeated and overreact. The current turnover margin will be very hard to sustain; it’s pretty much impossible to be +2 every game. Taking points against Minnesota in the coming weeks looks like the better option to me.
Photo credit: public domain.
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