Are Bettors Finally Ready to Respect the Vikings?

After scoring a 24-10 win over the Giants on Monday Night Football, the Minnesota Vikings are one of just three remaining unbeaten teams. The Vikings have also covered the spread in nine consecutive games; the longest active streak in the league. This level of success has been very surprising, especially given some of the adversity they’ve had to deal with.

When starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater suffered a season-ending knee injury, many people wrote off the Vikings. Over at BetOnline, their odds of winning the Super Bowl dropped from 20/1 to 28/1, their odds of winning the NFC championship dropped from 10/1 to 16/1 and their odds of winning the NFC North dropped from 2/1 to 4/1. In Las Vegas, the Westgate Superbook dropped their season win total from 9.5 to 8.

Those odds bounced back when the team acquired Sam Bradford from the Philadelphia Eagles in exchange for two draft picks, but Minnesota suffered another setback when Adrian Peterson left the team’s Week 2 game against Green Bay with a torn meniscus. The Vikings continue finding ways to win, and their success can largely be attributed to their head coach, Mike Zimmer.

Since Zimmer replaced Leslie Frazier after the conclusion of the 2013 season, the Vikings have gone 22-15 (59.5%) straight up and 28-9 ATS (75.7%). By simply betting the Vikings on the spread in every game, $100/game bettors would have earned over $1,700. That’s more profitable than the next two teams (Cincinnati and Green Bay) combined! Zimmer’s been particularly successful in low-scoring games, posting a 25-4 ATS record (86.2%) when the closing total is less than 46.

In spite of the team’s success, bettors have been hesitant to back the Vikings over the past two-plus seasons. In 37 games, the Vikings have received a majority of spread bets on just 12 occasions. Upon further analysis, I found that they have only received 44.4% of spread bets on average. For a quick comparison, Sean Payton and the Saints have received a majority of public support in 25 of 36 games (69.4%) despite a losing ATS record.

Historically bettors have gravitated towards the home team, so it was also interesting to find the home/road public betting splits have been almost identical. Since Zimmer was named head coach, the Vikings have averaged 44.28% of spread bets on the road and 44.53% of spread bets at home.

The tables below compare the Vikings performance based on venue.

Road Games (14-4 ATS)

Date Opponent Closing Spread Public Betting
9/7/2014 @ Los Angeles Rams 3 62%
9/21/2014 @ New Orleans Saints 10 17%
10/2/2014 @ Green Bay Packers 8.5 22%
10/19/2014 @ Buffalo Bills 7 35%
10/26/2014 @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers 1 40%
11/16/2014 @ Chicago Bears 2.5 27%
12/14/2014 @ Detroit Lions 8 41%
12/21/2014 @ Miami Dolphins 4.5 58%
9/14/2015 @ San Francisco 49ers -2.5 68%
10/4/2015 @ Denver Broncos 7 38%
10/25/2015 @ Detroit Lions 1 50%
11/1/2015 @ Chicago Bears -1 63%
11/15/2015 @ Oakland Raiders 3 40%
11/29/2015 @ Atlanta Falcons 2 63%
12/10/2015 @ Arizona Cardinals 10 48%
1/3/2016 @ Green Bay Packers 3 39%
9/11/2016 @ Tennessee Titans -2.5 49%
9/25/2016 @ Carolina Panthers 6 37%

Home Games (14-5 ATS)

Date Opponent Closing Spread Public Betting
9/14/2014 vs. New England Patriots 3.5 18%
9/28/2014 vs. Atlanta Falcons 5.5 23%
10/12/2014 vs. Detroit Lions -1 44%
11/2/2014 vs. Washington Redskins 1 42%
11/23/2014 vs. Green Bay Packers 7.5 21%
11/30/2014 vs. Carolina Panthers -2.5 56%
12/7/2014 vs. New York Jets -4.5 69%
12/28/2014 vs. Chicago Bears -7 50%
9/20/2015 vs. Detroit Lions -2.5 36%
9/27/2015 vs. San Diego Chargers -2 50%
10/18/2015 vs. Kansas City Chiefs -3.5 68%
11/8/2015 vs. Los Angeles Rams -2 56%
11/22/2015 vs. Green Bay Packers 1 43%
12/6/2015 vs. Seattle Seahawks 2.5 46%
12/20/2015 vs. Chicago Bears -4 52%
12/27/2015 vs. New York Giants -7 61%
1/10/2016 vs. Seattle Seahawks 4 31%
9/18/2016 vs. Green Bay Packers 1.5 24%
10/3/2016 vs. New York Giants -3.5 56%

Minnesota hasn’t received more than 69% of spread bets since hiring Zimmer, which is amazing considering they have played against many teams that are typically avoided by public bettors including Miami, Oakland, Tampa Bay and Tennessee. The Vikings have been the most profitable team in football since the start of the 2014 season, but only ten teams have received less public support over that period.

Breaking it down by season, I found that the Vikings averaged 39.06% of spread bets in 2014, 51.31% of spread bets in 2015 and 41.50% of spread bets in 2016. Last year the Vikings were an NFL-best 14-3 ATS, so it’s shocking to see that they haven’t received more public support this season. In fact, they only received 24% of spread bets in their Week 2 matchup against the Packers which was the second least popular side of the young season.

Dating back to last season, the Vikings have won seven straight regular season games and bettors may finally be taking notice. In this week’s matchup, the Vikings (-6.5) are receiving 84% of spread bets and 86% of total dollars wagered against the Houston Texans. Minnesota hasn’t received that level of public support since 2003, when Randy Moss was still catching balls from Daunte Culpepper.

It’s human nature to root for winners and scoring, and the media’s propensity to overhype these teams only exasperates this tendency. Sportsbooks understand this and shade their lines accordingly, which has historically created value on the underdog.

Although the Vikings have continued to win, they lack the type of potent offense that bettors consistently target. Last season their offense ranked 16th in points scored while their defense ranked 5th in points allowed. That combination led to low-scoring games and limited public support. As they continue to win, it will be interesting to see how both bettors and oddsmakers adjust.

Based on their impressive early season performance, the Vikings futures have improved across the board. Minnesota (-120) is favored to win the NFC North and they have the sixth best odds (+900) of winning the Super Bowl at BetOnline.

The table below displays how their futures have moved since the preseason.

Odds to Win Before Trade After Trade Current
Super Bowl +2800 +2000 +900
NFC Championship +1600 +1000 +400
NFC North +400 +200 -120

We will continue to monitor these lines and trends, and it will be interesting to see whether public bettors start consistently backing the Vikings. For the latest odds, betting trends, injury updates and more, bettors can check out our free NFL odds page.

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David Solar

David Solar has been the Content Manager at Sports Insights for over four years. He specializes in sports betting analytics and has created several popular data-driven betting systems. He can be reached directly at david@sportsinsights.com or on twitter at @TheDavidSolar.

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