A breakdown of bookmaker odds and insights for the Vikings this season
I recently completed my prediction for the Vikings season, at least in terms of win/loss record, and thought it would be interesting to take a look at the view from Las Vegas, along with some predictions as we kickoff the NFL season.
So, without further ado….
Vikings Team Odds and Insights
As of 9/8/21, here are the Vikings-related odds from Bovado, which can provide some insight into how the bookmakers are seeing the Vikings season, based on the wagering community money flows…
SUPER BOWL WINNER: 40/1
40/1 odds put the Vikings tied for the 20th best odds, with Washington, to win the Super Bowl. Tied for 20th, as a Vegas power ranking, would put the Vikings out of the post-season. This is perhaps a slightly dimmer view of the Vikings’ season than most, with the average view putting the Vikings on the cusp of the playoffs. These are the worst preseason Super Bowl odds for the Vikings since 2017, so Vegas seems to be more skeptical of the Vikings chances this year compared to the last few. Often that’s at least partly a reflection of how the team did the previous year.
NFC CONFERENCE CHAMPION: 18/1
NFC CONFERENCE #1 SEED: 25/1
Vikings rank 8th here – middle of the pack – with the same favorites as the conference champion odds.
CLINCH A WILD CARD SPOT: 3/1
The Vikings move up to 6th here, with a three of the favorites for conference champion and #1 seed ahead of them. The Packers are near the bottom here, reflecting a strong view that the Packers win the division.
NFC NORTH DIVISION WINNER: 5/2
The Vikings have the 2nd best odds to win the division, but the Packers are the prohibitive favorite at 5/8. This is why the Packers odds for a wild card spot are so low. It’s also why the Vikings’ odds for a wild card spot are good, but their odds to be conference champion or a #1 seed- both reserved for division champions- are middling.
HIGHEST SCORING TEAM: 18/1 (T-7th BEST)
LOWEST SCORING TEAM: 40/1 (T-11th WORST)
I put these two odds together as from an insight perspective, they both relate to how well betters think the Vikings offense will be this year. Given they scored the 11th most points last year, being tied for 7th – with six other teams – suggests they expect a similar ranking this year from the Vikings offense. Overall, the two odds rankings suggest Vegas thinks the Vikings will have a top ten offense this year- similar to the Vikings’ two previous years.
REGULAR SEASON TOTAL TEAM POINTS OVER/UNDER: 412.5 (14TH MOST)
This conflicts some with the highest scoring team odds above, although the seven teams immediately above the Vikings are within about 30 points, so it may not be that significant. The Vikings scored 430 points last year in 16 games, so 412.5 this year in 17 games is notably lower. Such is the case for nearly every team, as full stadiums for road teams will make it more difficult for offenses. The lack of off/pre-season may have helped offenses more too, as scoring was significantly higher across the board last season. Still, that seems low for the Vikings. It’s notable, however, that the Packers, who scored 507 points last year, have an over/under of 449.5 this year, so perhaps it’s no worse than for most teams.
BEST REGULAR SEASON RECORD: 40/1 (18th BEST)
WORST REGULAR SEASON RECORD: 50/1 (T- 15th BEST)
If winning and losing games comes down to how many points you score vs. how many points you allow, and judging by the odds-ranking the Vikings have for highest scoring team, you can deduce that Vegas doesn’t think nearly as well of the Vikings defense this year. Obviously this is a reflection of how the Vikings defense did last season, 29th in points allowed.
However, as someone who follows the Vikings closer than the national average, this may be the biggest national misperception of the Vikings this year. Prior to last season, in which the Vikings defense suffered the 3rd most games lost to injuries, the Vikings defense ranked in the top ten, if not top 5, in points allowed five straight seasons. Outside of last year, the worst ranked defense the Vikings have had in points allowed since Mike Zimmer became head coach was 11th in 2014. Given the personnel the Vikings have added on that side of the ball this off-season, along with those coming back from injury, Zimmer has at least as much talent as he had in 2017, when he had the #1 defense in the league.
LAST UNBEATEN TEAM: 20/1 (T-9TH BEST)
The Vikings have fairly short odds here, which speaks to the early part of their schedule, basically to week 8, with really only two tougher matchups at home against the Seahawks and at Cleveland weeks 3 and 4. The rest of the games through their bye-week 7 are against teams not expected to make the playoffs, including Cincinnati, Arizona, Detroit, and Carolina, with Dallas at home after their bye-week.
LAST WINLESS TEAM: 55/1 (T-11TH WORST)
Vikings are not likely candidates here, once again a reflection of the early part of their schedule.
REGULAR SEASON WINS OVER/UNDER: 9 (T-13th HIGHEST)
The Vikings are tied with 4 other teams for 13th highest regular season win total over/under number, putting them firmly in the middle of the pack overall. The bias here, based on the over odds (27/20) vs. under odds (21/20), is toward the over. The Vikings are tied for 7th highest among NFC teams (with the Saints), which according to Vegas puts them on the cusp of the playoffs this year- once again a 7 team format per conference. The general view seems to be that the Vikings will compete for one of the three wild card spots with the Saints and two NFC West teams.
EXACT NUMBER OF REGULAR SEASON WINS
3 or less: 40/1
As you can see, the shortest odds for the Vikings are between 7-11 wins, all basically with 5/1 odds. Overall, the Vikings exact win odds form a normal curve with a very flat top around 9 wins, similar to the over/under number, with Vegas paying almost as much for 6 wins as 12. Overall, this would seem to indicate some uncertainty around the Vikings being somewhere not too far from a .500 team this season. The Vikings are in a group of teams with a wider range of win totals with shorter odds, reflecting a greater degree of uncertainty.
For example, the Chiefs have relatively short odds at every win total 12 or over, with quickly lengthening odds with each lower win total, reflecting a strong view of the Chiefs as a 12+ win team this year. The Texans have very short odds on 2 or less wins, at 8/5, and they go up pretty quickly from there, reflecting a strong view of how bad Vegas thinks the Texans will be.
On the other hand, Tennessee has 10/1 odds at 6 and 13 wins, with shorter odds in-between, reflecting uncertainty of where they’ll land in that range. Cleveland has 10/1 odds for 15+ wins, and 12/1 odds for 7 wins, with shorter odds in-between, also reflecting a wide range- and therefore greater uncertainty, although on the high end. Denver has 11/1 odds for 5 wins, and 12/1 odds for 13 wins, also reflecting a lot of uncertainty. The Bears have 17/2 odds for 3 or less wins, but also 10/1 odds for 11 wins, perhaps the widest range of uncertainty of any team. The Vikings are more in this camp, with shorter odds spread out over a wider range, reflecting uncertainty.
The Packers, notably, are off the board for exact win number odds.
VIKINGS MAKE THE PLAYOFFS?
The bias here is toward the Vikings making the playoffs. The Saints, which are seen similarly as the Vikings this year, have the reverse odds to make the playoffs. Seattle has very slightly shorter odds to make the playoffs (20/29) than the Vikings.
PLAYOFF ELIMINATION ROUND ODDS
Win Super Bowl: 40/1
Lose Super Bowl: 30/1
Lose in Conference Championship: 13/1
Lose in Divisional Round: 5/1
Lose in Wildcard Round: 11/4
Not Make Playoffs: 23/20
These odds would also seem to put the Vikings right on the bubble in terms of making the playoffs. Interestingly, the Vikings odds of losing in the wildcard round are the same as the Packers, but for different reasons- mainly the view that the Packers have a shot of making the playoffs and not playing in the wildcard round by getting the top seed. The Packers have shorter odds of losing in the Divisional Round (3/1) than the Vikings, presumably because they have a better shot of getting there in the first place, according to Vegas.
MOST REGULAR SEASON PENALTIES/PENALTY YARDS: 50/1 (T-2ND WORST)
Vikings are in a group of eight teams tied for the 2nd longest odds in these two categories. Last season the Vikings had the 10th most penalties per game, at 5.1, and 6th least in penalty yards, at 40.6, and Vegas thinks the Vikings will be about the same this year.
VIKINGS SEASON PROPS
A collection of season prop bets for the Vikings, some more interesting than others. It’s interesting that in some cases more difficult tasks have better odds, but such are the irregularities of the betting markets, I guess. My favorite bets are in bold.
- Vikings start 4-0: 10/1
- Vikings start 5-0: 9/1
- Vikings start 0-4: 12/1
- Vikings reach NFC Championship game: 13/2
- Vikings win all 6 division games: 22/1
- Vikings lose all 6 division games: 80/1
- Vikings win all home games: 50/1
- Vikings go 17-0: 200/1
- Vikings go 0-17: 200/1
- Vikings lose all home games: 250/1
- Vikings win all road games: 500/1
- Kirk Cousins Under 3999.5 passing yards: 11/10
- Adam Thielen & Justin Jefferson combined over 2495.5 regular season receiving yards: 7/4
- Vikings make playoffs + Dalvin Cook 1000+ rush yards + Justin Jefferson over 1450.5 regular season receiving yards + Kirk Cousins 4000+ passing yards: 3/1
- Points in every quarter of each of Minnesota’s first 10 matches: 7/2
- Danielle Hunter over 7.5 regular season sacks + Eric Kendricks over 74.5 regular season solo tackles: 33/10
- Dalvin Cook over 13.5 regular season rushing TDs + Adam Thielen over 9.5 regular season receiving TDs: 11/4
My favorite bet of all of these is the Danielle Hunter/Eric Kendricks combo prop bet. Paying just over 3/1 odds, with Danielle Hunter having 14.5 sacks in each of the two previous 16 game seasons he played, and Kendricks having 69 solo tackles last year in just 11 games played. It would seem that if both stay reasonably healthy, they’d both be shoe-ins to make those numbers, based on their most recent seasons. Having 17 games this season makes it even more likely they hit those numbers if healthy.
The Cook/Thielen combo prop bet pays nearly 3/1, and given Cook had 16 rushing TDs last season, and Thielen had 14 receiving TDs, it would seem pretty likely they’d both hit those over numbers again this year if healthy, particularly with an extra game this season too.
The ones that make the least sense are the 17-0 / 0-17 bets, given the odds for winning or losing all away / home games are much higher, and more likely to happen. It also doesn’t make sense to bet the Vikings go 5-0 for 9/1 odds, when you can get 10/1 odds if they go 4-0.
Among the longer shots, the Vikings winning all six division games at 22/1 is mildly interesting, which may come down largely to whether they can beat the Packers twice. I might take a flyer on the 500/1 shot the Vikings win all their road games, however unlikely. Only 3 of them are against likely playoff teams at this point, but still a tall task. But compared to winning the Super Bowl, also no easy task, the odds pay over 12x more.
Vikings Player Odds and Insights
Offensive Player of the Year: 45/1
Most Passing TDs: 22/1 (tied for 11th best)
Most Passing Yards: 25/1 (tied for 11th best)
Most Interceptions: 22/1 (tied for 11th best)
Over/Under Passing TDs: 28.5
Over/Under Passing Yards: 4200.5
Cousins has never been a contender for MVP or OPOY, and honestly how much better would he have to play compared to others to win either award, given his national reputation? PFF wrote in their 2021 QB Annual, “One of these years, Kirk Cousins will fulfill the prophecy and be the most unlikely NFL MVP of all time” perhaps tongue-in-cheek, but Cousins is Matt Ryan-esque in putting up pretty good stats most of the time without being on a dominant team, and Ryan won MVP in 2016, so perhaps under similar circumstances Cousins could win it too. 50/1 seems about right though- same as Ryan this year. And Jalen Hurts. Ouch. Matthew Stafford, who’s never been better than Cousins, and certainly not more winning, is at 16/1 odds- tied for 6th best- on the strength of moving out of Detroit to the Rams.
One factor in these QB passing odds categories is scheme and running back: more balanced pass/run schemes and QBs with top running backs, particularly in the red zone, aren’t as likely to have the best odds, other factors equal, simply because they’re likely to have fewer attempts compared to other quarterbacks. Cousins ranking 11th here is fairly high considering the Vikings ranked 27th in pass attempts last year, and Dalvin Cook had 16 rushing TDs last year- 2nd most in the league.
Cousins also was tied for 3rd most interceptions last year, so being tied for 11th here suggests Vegas doesn’t expect a repeat performance this year.
Offensive Player of the Year: 14/1 (5th best)
Most Rushing Yards: 6/1 (2nd best)
Most Rushing TDs: 5/1 (2nd best)
Over/Under Receptions: 59.5 (slight bias toward the under)
Over/Under Rushing Yards: 1375.5 (2nd highest)
Over/Under Rushing TDs: 13.5 (Tied for highest)
Over/Under Rushing + Receiving Yards: 1695.5 (2nd highest)
Dalvin is the most popular Viking nationally, and lots of people keep track of him because as a top running back, he’s on a lot of fantasy teams. If he stayed healthy all year, and somehow managed to top King Henry in some way(s), he’d stand a pretty good chance at OPOY.
Offensive Player of the Year: 35/1
Most Receptions: 20/1 (T-10th best)
Over/Under Receiving TDs: 8.5 (slight bias toward the under)
Over/Under Receiving Yards: 1325.5 (4th highest, 25 yards lower than #1)
Over/Under Receptions: 90.5
Overall, Vegas thinks JJ will be among the top receivers in the league again this year, despite his likely drawing his opponents best corner- which he started to do as the season progressed last year. He may not be Cousins’ preferred target in the end zone, but who knows- the Vegas view of his TD total seems a little light compared to the others.
Most Receptions: 50/1
Over/Under Receiving TDs: 9
Over/Under Receiving Yards: 990.5
Vegas views Thielen as maybe a top 10-20 range receiver, becoming the #2 receiver behind JJ, but if JJ draws more attention, Thielen could surprise on the upside from these numbers.
Defensive Player of the Year: 33/1 (T-10th best)
Comeback Player of the Year: 25/1 (tied for 13th best)
Most Sacks: 16/1 (T-7th best)
Over/Under Sacks: 10.5 (bias toward the over) (highest is 12.5)
Hunter is in a group of 13 players with 33/1 odds to be DPOY, which often goes to the sack leader, which Hunter is a contender for as well. I like his odds for most sacks, as he’ll be helped this season by having Pierce and Tomlinson collapse the pocket, preventing QBs from stepping up to avoid Hunter’s rush. Hunter had 14.5 sacks his last two seasons playing, and TJ Watt had the most sacks last year with 15, so I expect Hunter to be a strong contender for sack leader this year.
Hunter is also in a 4-way tie for 13th best odds with Joe Mixon, Julio Jones, and Von Miller for Comeback Player of the Year. The high profile favorite is Dak Prescott at 2/1 odds, and it would seem this is his award to lose this year. Part of the award is based on performance, part of it on how severe the injury the player is coming back from. Alex Smith won last year, despite playing only part of the season with mediocre stats, based on the severity of his leg injury. Hunter doesn’t seem likely to win this award, as he didn’t suffer a gruesome, on-field injury.
Defensive Player of the Year: 50/1
More of an also-ran at best odds, as cornerbacks usually play second-fiddle to pass rushers for this award. But only a handful of defensive backs have shorter odds than Peterson to win it.
Most tackles: 18/1 (10th best)
Kendricks has been up there for most tackles the past several years, so no surprise with these odds. In addition to being perhaps the best linebacker in coverage in the NFL, Kendricks does more than his share of the dirty work bringing guys to the ground, run or pass. I doubt he’ll lead the league, but he’ll continue to be up among the top tacklers around the league.
Defensive Rookie of the Year: 80/1
Surratt was the first defensive draft pick for the Vikings this year, #78 overall, so it’s not surprising that no Vikings’ rookies this year have very good odds. No Vikings offensive rookies are among those with 100/1 odds or better.
Coach of the Year: 33/1 (tied for 8th worst with John Harbaugh)
This award has gone to rookie coaches in 3 of the last 4 years, with Kevin Stefanski winning last year, Sean McVay in 2017, and Matt Nagy in 2018. John Harbaugh won in 2019, but doesn’t look to be a favorite to repeat. Zimmer, in his 8th year and coming off a bad year, is easy to pass over. The favorite this year (10/1 odds) is Brandon Staley, also a rookie, who took over as head coach of the Chargers after being the defensive coordinator for the Rams last year.
First NFL Coach to Leave His Position in 2021: 7/1 (Tied for most likely)
This is probably the most surprising odds to me. Yes, Zimmer needs to do well this year, but shortest odds (along with Matt Nagy- 2018 coach of the year) to be the first one fired? That seems pretty harsh. Vic Fangio at 9/1 and Matt LaFleur (26-6 and 2 CC games in two years) at 16/1 also seems like very short odds. Meanwhile Nick Sirianni with the Eagles is only 66-1? I’d bet on Sirianni getting canned before any of the others.
This also speaks to the national misperception of the Vikings defense. More likely it reflects the (misplaced) view that Zimmer as a defensive head coach, with a terrible defense last year, has lost his mojo and his defense won’t improve much this year, so he’ll be fired.
I agree that this year is likely to see scoring decrease, probably back to 2019 levels, as the return of fans and full stadiums makes it more difficult for road team offenses to operate. In general, I think a lot of the top teams from last season will not do quite as well in those circumstances, and in some cases because their divisions will be more competitive, so I’d be surprised if any team had more than 13-14 wins this year. I expect playoff seeding to be more competitive. I don’t think the Bucs or the Chiefs will be better teams this year, or even the Bills or the Browns, although the Browns may eek out a division win. I think the 49ers and Broncos will be a lot better, along with the Vikings and Patriots, while teams like the Seahawks, Saints, Steelers and Ravens all slide a bit. The NFC East may not be as bad as last year, but I don’t see them represented by anything more or less than one 4th seed division winner in the playoffs- the minimum from any division.
Houston and Detroit will race to the bottom, and it’s hard to tell who’ll win, but hard to bet against Houston, even if it’s hard to find a win on the Lions’ schedule.
I like the Vikings, Dallas, Tampa and San Francisco as division winners in the NFC, and Kansas City, Buffalo, Cleveland, and Tennessee in the AFC. I’ll go with the Broncos, Ravens and Patriots to win wild card spots in the AFC, while the Packers, Rams, and Seattle win them in the NFC. Win-loss records between division winners and wild card teams will be very slim. Playoffs will be tough all around.
One reason I expect Tampa to not be as good is because they had easily the least amount of games lost to injuries last season. I doubt that continues for a second season. The Rams had the second fewest. On the other side, New England and San Francisco had the most. Those things likely even out, and so too will their win/loss records. Tampa also had the best turnover margin, while Denver and San Francisco had the worst. That’s another stat that tends to normalize some over time, with a corresponding effect on win/loss record.
I’d make a prediction for the playoffs and Super Bowl winner, but I really have no idea. So much changes between now and then, injuries too, so it’s not really worth it.
I will say that I think the Vikings have more than the 3% even chance every team has, all things being equal, to win the Super Bowl this year.