The NFL Week 13 Game of the Week takes place on the afternoon card, where the Vikings and Patriots are likely to put on an offensive show with precision and two of the top rated quarterbacks showcasing their mettle. The Patriots have won seven of their last eight games and in their four home games during that stretch, New England scored 31, 43, 38 and 38 points in reverse order against the Packers, Chiefs, Colts and Dolphins. Three of those teams have quality passing quarterbacks, and the Vikings Kirk Cousins fits right in having a Pro Bowl season in his first year with the Vikings. But Minnesota’s defense is superior to all those teams and any the Patriots have faced, which makes it a tougher challenge for New England in this scintillating showdown.
Minnesota Vikings (6-4-1) at New England Patriots (8-3)
Sunday Dec. 2nd – Gillette Stadium, Foxboro, MA – 4:25pm ET
NFL Week 13 Betting Line: New England -5 (48.5)
Kirk Cousins has started all 11 games in his debut season with the Vikings, and he’s passing for 299.0 yards per game with 71.1% completions and 22 touchdown passes. Cousins has completed 36 passes of 20 or more yards, mostly to his All Pro receiver Adam Thielen, whose 93 receptions lead the league. What’s even more impressive is that 63 of Thielen’s receptions have resulted in first downs. Theilen ranks second with 1,138 receiving yards. Wide receiver Stefon Diggs is fifth in the league with 79 receptions. The Vikings don’t run the ball much, averaging just 21.8 rusher per game to rank 28th in the NFL and their 85.3 rushing yards per game ranks No. 30.
The Patriots run for a modest 118.2 yards per game which is slightly above league average, but they have balanced the attack more with 28.5 rushes per game and have QB Tom Brady passing for 275.5 yards per game.
The Vikings defense has a talented personnel that is getting stronger as the season goes along, allowing 314.7 yards per game to rank 3rd in the league including just 257 yards against over their last three contests on average. Over their last three games against the NFC North, they’ve allowed a league-low 4.0 yards per play against Green Bay, Chicago and Detroit. Brady will be under more pressure in the NFL Week 13 Game of the Week, as the defensive front of the Vikings is strong and the defense also ranks among the league leaders with 36 sacks.
The Patriots have just 17 sacks this season and allows 377.5 yards per game, but against those three teams with elite level quarterbacks in Green Bay, Kansas City and Indianapolis, the Patriots allowed 367, 448 and 439 yards in those victories. Belichik’s defense rank 25th in passing yards permitted (269.7) and quarterback Kirk Cousins has a very strong receiving core which is next in line for some success. The Patriots face their toughest test, noting too that New England’s offense was below average against a solid defense in a misleading 25-6 road win at Buffalo a month ago.
If the playoffs started this week, the Patriots would win their ultra-weak AFC East division again while the Vikings would be the NFC’s top wild card. New England has been a dominant force at home in December during the Belichick and Brady era, going 40-28-1 ATS but this is not a vintage Patriots team. Minnesota is also 7-1 ATS in their last eight road games against AFC opponents, and 19-6-1 ATS in their last 26 December games. I’ll support a winning team pushing for another playoff appearance in my NFL Week 13 Game of the Week pick. In the end, Minnesota touts a stronger defense that is more battle-tested.
Look for the Vikings to deliver and the purple to pass their way to the cashier’s window. I’ll gladly take the points, but the moneyline is incredibly tempting too. That’s how much I prefer Minnesota.
NFL Week 13 Game of the Week Free Pick – Minnesota Vikings +5.0 or +210 ML
Fairway Jay is a professional handicapper based out of Las Vegas. He focuses primarily on the four majors along with college football and college basketball. You can follow him on Twitter @FairwayJay.