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Patriots vs. Vikings prediction: New England is a live underdog Thursday night

Back the streaking Patriots, whose lights-out defense should overwhelm Minnesota QB Cousins

New England Patriots linebacker Matthew Judon celebrates a sack against the New York Jets on Sunday. The Patriots enter Thursday’s game at Minnesota ranked second in the NFL with 36 sacks, led by Judon’s league-high 13. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images)
New England Patriots linebacker Matthew Judon celebrates a sack against the New York Jets on Sunday. The Patriots enter Thursday’s game at Minnesota ranked second in the NFL with 36 sacks, led by Judon’s league-high 13. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images)Read moreBillie Weiss / Getty Images

Don’t look now, but here come the New England Patriots. And don’t look now, but the Minnesota Vikings might not be nearly as good as their record implies.

Those dual storylines converge in a prime-time matchup between playoff contenders Thursday night, when Patriots vs. Vikings caps a Thanksgiving Day NFL tripleheader.

While New England (6-4 SU, 6-3-1 ATS) will be shooting for its fourth straight win, Minnesota (8-2 SU, 4-5-1 ATS) will attempt to rebound from its first home loss of the year — which happened to be the worst blowout defeat any NFL team has absorbed this season.

Despite Sunday’s disastrous performance against Dallas, the Vikings opened as a consensus 3-point home favorite against New England. However, the betting market threw its support behind the Patriots, pushing the point spread below the key field-goal number.

While that half-point adjustment is significant, we still can’t help but endorse the road underdog, even at an unfavorable number. Here’s how we’re betting Patriots vs. Vikings.

Note: All odds updated as of 12:30 p.m. ET on Nov. 23.

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Patriots vs. Vikings Prediction

  1. Patriots +2.5, -105 (at Caesars Sportsbook)

Patriots vs. Vikings Prediction: Analysis

You know the old saying, “Don’t kick a dog when he’s down”? Well, it’s difficult not to when that dog is the Vikings.

A week after a miraculous — and many would argue undeserved — overtime upset of the Bills in Buffalo, Minnesota completely no-showed against Dallas in Week 11. After the teams traded early field goals, the Cowboys ripped off 37 unanswered points en route to a 40-3 annihilation.

The defeat snapped the Vikings’ seven-game winning streak. And, really, it was long overdue. Because as we mentioned last week when we recommended a bet on Dallas, Minnesota has been doing it with mirrors all season.

Here’s how close the Vikings are from being 3-7 instead of 8-2:

  1. After opening the season with a blowout win (vs. Green Bay) and blowout loss (at Philadelphia), Minnesota came home in Week 3 and needed a touchdown with less than a minute to play to overtake the Lions 28-24.

  2. Next came a trip to London, where the Vikings outlasted the Saints 28-25, needing a field goal with 24 seconds left to avoid overtime.

  3. Minnesota then returned home and beat the Bears 29-22, scoring a touchdown just before the 2-minute warning to erase a 22-21 Chicago lead. That was followed by a 24-16 win at Miami, which didn’t have starting QB Tua Tagovailoa under center.

  4. After a relatively comfortable 34-26 Week 8 home win over Arizona — although it was a two-point game midway through the fourth quarter — the Vikings traveled to Washington in Week 9. They trailed the Commanders 17-7 early in the fourth quarter before scoring the final 13 points to pull out yet another one-score win.

Then came the miracle in Buffalo before the Cowboys rode into Minnesota and finally turned the Vikings’ carriage into a pumpkin.

The overarching point: There’s a serious fraud factor going on with this Vikings squad. And the oddsmakers know it, which is why Dallas was a road favorite last week. And why Sunday night’s game against New England is a virtual tossup.

» READ MORE: Bills vs. Lions prediction: Bet on Detroit to cover as big home underdog

To be clear: The Patriots don’t belong in the NFL’s elite grouping with teams like the Chiefs, Bills, Eagles, Cowboys or even the 49ers. But they’re in the next tier — and many have New England power rated higher than the Vikings.

So how are the Pats getting it done this season? As is almost always the case with a Bill Belichick squad, it’s been all about defense. New England showed that again in last week’s crazy 10-3 home victory over the Jets, with the Patriots scoring the only touchdown on an 84-yard punt return with only a few ticks left on the clock.

New England’s D has now permitted a single field goal in each of the last two games, preceding the Jets win with a 26-3 rout of the Colts before going on bye.

Through 10 games, the Patriots have surrendered 20 or fewer points seven times; 15 points or fewer five times; and three points or fewer on three occasions (they blanked the Lions 29-0 at home in Week 5).

» READ MORE: Giants vs. Cowboys prediction: Bank on another blowout victory for Dallas

Since a tough 27-24 overtime loss at Green Bay on Oct. 2, New England has won five of six games. And the one exception — a 33-14 Monday night home loss to Chicago in Week 7 — looks more and more like an outlier with each passing day.

And although the point spread in this game is miniscule, it’s worth mentioning that the Pats are on a 6-1 ATS roll (3-0 ATS on the road).

Also worth mentioning: Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins on Sunday was sacked seven times by the Cowboys, who lead the NFL with 43 sacks.

You know which team is No. 2 in sacks? New England with 36.

So, yeah, you better believe we are going to side with a Belichick D vs. Cousins. And we’ll take the couple of points Caesars Sportsbook is giving us — even though we likely won’t need them.

Patriots vs. Vikings Odds (via Caesars Sportsbook)

  1. Point spread: Patriots (+2.5, -105) @ Vikings (-2.5, -115)

  2. Moneyline: Patriots +118 @ Vikings -140

  3. Total: 42.5 points

» READ MORE: Full sports betting coverage from The Philadelphia Inquirer

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