There might be no more difficult task in sports betting than trying to predict the success or failure of the Minnesota Vikings in their upcoming playoff run.
Thus far, bettors have had a good run wagering on the Vikings, who finished the NFL regular season with a record of 13-4, delivering many moneyline victories.
Of course, legal Minnesota sports betting is not yet available, so state residents would have to head to Ohio (launched on Jan. 1), or other nearby states such as Iowa, Michigan, Illinois or Kansas, to place a wager.
Vikings’ Outlook in Playoffs
The Vikings have put themselves in a good position in the wild-card round of the NFL playoffs with a home game against the 9-7-1 New York Giants.
There are no sportsbooks in Minnesota, but DraftKings lists the Vikings as a 3-point and -165 moneyline favorite. The over-under on the game is at 48.5. For additional updates Vikings playoff chances, check out our playoff page.
On the surface, this does not seem to be a game that would be difficult to predict, especially when you consider the Vikings are also 8-1 at home and already have beaten the Giants once this year (by 27-24 on Christmas Eve).
Alas, these Vikings are no ordinary playoff team. The Kirk Cousins-led offense has been great, finishing in the top eight in both points scored and yards.
Justin Jefferson somehow has improved, putting up league-leading numbers in both receptions (128) and receiving yards (1,809).
The run game is strong with Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison capable of gaining in chunks.
The defense, however, leaves a lot to be desired. Only the Detroit Lions allowed more yards this season, making the Vikings’ 13-4 record quite surprising.
Minnesota’s secret? A staggering 11-0 record in one-score games, a stat that can be interpreted positively but more accurately suggests that luck often has been on their side.
The Vikings actually have a negative point differential overall. When they lose, they tend to do so badly. Minnesota has trailed by 33 or more points on three different occasions this year (one of which was a historic comeback win, adding another footnote to a wildly unpredictable year).
Matching Up with Giants
The matchup with the Giants presents concerns, especially with the ability of quarterback Daniel Jones to run the ball. Running has been the calling card when the Giants have had success this year. Halfback Saquon Barkley is also among the league's elite.
Additionally, Jones' most successful game through the air came against these very Vikings. Jones was 30-for-42 for 334 yards and a touchdown.
Not unlike Minnesota, the Giants also have some concerns as they, too, finished the season with a negative point differential, making this just the fourth ever postseason matchup between two teams that share that distinction.
In the end, the homefield advantage for Minnesota looks to be the most likely difference maker and stands as the biggest reason for the three-point spread.
If the Vikings Advance
The real trouble for Minnesota is after this round, should they get past the Giants. There is a reason the Vikings are still +3500 to win the Super Bowl at DraftKings, tied for ninth with the Baltimore Ravens among the league’s 14 playoff teams.
AFC heavyweights Buffalo and Kansas City lead the betting market and San Francisco and Philadelphia have the shortest odds to win the NFC. Beating a 9-7-1 Giants team that has overachieved this season is one thing. Going through a tough NFC to walk into a matchup with the Bills, Chiefs or whoever else comes out of the AFC is another.
The Vikings have far too many defensive holes to be considered a real threat to win it all. Without serious improvement in that area of the game, Minnesota is likely to peak in the wild card round before crashing to reality in the divisional round.
Meanwhile, Vikings fans in Minnesota are hoping that state legislation from last year can get passed so that legal wagering is in place by the end of the year.