Minnesota Vikings vs. St. Louis Rams
Time: 1 PM ET, Sept 7, 2014
Spread: STL -3.5
Betting odds c/o of Bovada
The Minnesota Vikings are on the verge of a big transition. The team is rebuilding and QB Matt Cassel, 32, is almost ready to hand the reigns off to No. 32 overall 2014 selection Teddy Bridgewater.
Until that happens, the Vikings will bank that the coaching tandem of Norv Turner and Mike Zimmer can quickly return the team to competitiveness, but the team is given the longest shot odds of taking its division by Bovada futures (+1000).
The best thing the offense has going for it isn’t its players; it’s Turner. He’ll diversify the play calling and allow more passing, which will only make it easier on Adrian Peterson in the backfield.
Christian Ponder was a horrible disappointment at QB and ranks third on the depth chart, now. The team’s strength remains the run, but Peterson is nearing the witching age (30) for running backs. He’s also had two surgeries in the last three off seasons, so Jerick McKinnon may get some early looks after being selected in the third round out of Georgia Southern. He’s a very powerful back who will probably be tried in a number of goal line rushes.
The Vikings are destined to finish last in the division, but the long-term outlook isn’t bad if Bridgewater pans out. He had a tremendous career in the NCAA and has the tools to be a top-tier NFL quarterback. The Vikings begin the season on the road in Saint Louis where it is 3.5-point underdogs to the Rams.
The Rams played nine games with its backup QB last year, but retooled through the draft. It may be a couple seasons before the team is competitive again, but the team’s draft picks give hopes for a quick turnaround relatively speaking. The Vikes are long shots to win either the Superbowl (50/1) or the NFC (25/1), but QB Sam Bradford will benefit immensely from some stability and retaining offensive coordinator Brian Schotenheimer will help with that.
Bradford needs Tavon Austin and Chris Givens to step up as WRs. The depth chart at WR has a lot of inexperienced options, but Austin is great for big plays and Givens should rebound after a tough 2013-14 season.
The Rams have been knocking on the door the last two seasons after winning seven games in consecutive seasons. Bradford’s health is imperative for this team to improve on last season, though, and even if the improvement is just to an eight or nine win season, it’s steps in the right direction. Opening the season against a mediocre opponent like the Vikings will give the Rams a chance to establish some rhythm early in the season, which can be crucial for young teams trying to develop confidence and an identity.