Minnesota (11-6) is riding high after defeating the Saints in the NFC Wild Card Game last Sunday, the biggest upset of the weekend. Kirk Cousins played a near-perfect game, throwing for 242 yards and the game-winning touchdown to Kyle Rudolph in overtime. Dalvin Cook churned out 94 yards on 28 carries with two scores. Minnesota’s defense shut down the high-powered Saints offense, especially in the passing game. Cornerbacks Xavier Rhodes and Trae Waynes held All-Pro receiver Michael Thomas to just 70 yards on eight targets with no touchdowns. The Vikings defense is ranked third in the NFL with 30 takeaways this season.
San Francisco (13-3) is coming off the bye and will be getting three key defenders back from injury. Defensive end Dee Ford (hamstring), safety Jaquiski Tartt (ribs) and linebacker Kwon Alexander (pectoral) are all expected back in the lineup. Wide receiver Deebo Samuel has had a breakout second half of the season with 42 catches, 634 receiving yards, 151 rushing yards, and five combined touchdowns over the past 10 weeks. The 49ers lead the league in rushing defense allowing just 169.2 yards per game.
ESPN’s FPI gives San Francisco a 66.1% chance of winning this game. We break down the line and offer our best bets and analysis for Saturday’s NFC Divisional Playoff matchup between the Vikings and 49ers.
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Vikings vs. 49ers Game Details
Date: Saturday, January 11
Time: 4:35 pm
Location: Levi’s Stadium (Santa Clara, California)
Spread: 49ers -7
This line opened at Vikings -7 and has held firm most of the week with a few oscillations to Vikings -6.5. It appears like this number will close at Vikings -7 barring any late sharp money in either direction. The action has been relatively split with both teams receiving an approximately equal amount of bets.
- Vikings are 11-6 SU and 10-7 ATS this season
- 49ers are 13-3 SU and 9-6-1 ATS this season
- Over is 9-8 in Vikings games this season
- Over is 8-7-1 in 49ers games this season
Analysis & Picks
Everyone will want to talk about the running games in this matchup, but I think it’s the passing game for both sides that will determine who wins. The Vikings have issues in the slot. Starter Mackensie Alexander (knee) missed last week, and backup Mike Hughes (neck, IR) is out for the year. In Alexander’s place, longtime starter-turned-backup safety Andrew Sendejo played slot corner last week, and although he’s competent, it’s not ideal for the 32-year-old veteran to play out of position for an entire game.
This is also a bad matchup for the Vikings wide receivers as the 49ers have the No. 2 secondary, according to Pro Football Focus. Starters Richard Sherman, Ahkello Witherspoon and K’Waun William along with backup Emmanuel Moseley have been excellent this season and I think they will continue to dominate on Sunday. Adam Thielen‘s injury status is also in doubt. The wide receiver is expected to play despite being questionable with an ankle injury. Even if he does go, I’m unsure how effective he will be. I’m betting on Kirk Cousins not being able to have a second-straight turnover-free performance. Give me the 49ers.
PICK: 49ers -7
Follow Jared Smith on Twitter: @jaredleesmith