VIKINGS @ NINERS – NFL FINAL 8 PREVIEW (SAT. JAN 11, 2020)
CAN KIRK COUSINS WIN 2 STRAIGHT BIG GAMES AND KNOCK OFF THE #1 SEED NINERS ON ROAD?
VEGAS BETTING LINE: SAN FRAN NINERS (-7) vs. MINNY VIKINGS ~ TOTAL: (44 1/2)
VIKINGS OFFENSE — OVERALL (16), RUSH (6), PASS (23).
VIKINGS DEFENSE — OVERALL (14), RUSH (13), PASS (15).
49ERS OFFENSE — OVERALL (4), RUSH (2), PASS (13).
49ERS DEFENSE — OVERALL (2), RUSH (17), PASS (1).
Well folks the Wild Card weekend had some really great games and some shocking Upsets as well so the Final 8 games will be hard to match as far as down to wire exciting. One of the teams who pulled off a Huge Upset win was the Vikings and to me it’s one of the most shocking Upsets of all time. Kirk “Never Won a Big Game” Cousins led his team to a big Playoff win and now the entire world feels he’s Great and he’s over the Hump with his one big win of his entire career. Sports are the greatest. You win and you are simply a superstar. Even if you are 1 for 16 in Big games. Lose and you suck and you are all bums.
I give Cousins for his OT heroics, but for the first 4 Quarters he didn’t show me anything. Nobody talks about how the Saints never miss Kicker missed one before Half, then QB D. Brees fumbles on first down in the Red Zone in a Tie game late. I applaud the Vikings D as the biggest reason for that win. Now it’s really “can Cousins win a second straight Big Road game again”. Cousins prior to last week had been terrible on the Road. Now he will face the Niners #2 Defense that is off charts vs. Pass, allowing only 169 passing yards per game. Cousins is only a 220 yard per game passer too and so it really comes down to “can the Vikings run the ball”. If they can’t, they almost have 0 chance to pull another Road Upset. Vikings need RB D. Cook to have a 100 yard day or more. He was solid last week early on, but kinda faded down the stretch. He is a force though and you can only look to the Niners last game where they allowed a nobody for Seattle (RB T. Homer) to gain 125 yards rushing. If Cook gets that, Vikings are in this to the final gun.
For the Niners, QB. Jimmy Garappolo is making his first ever Playoff start. He had a great season with a (58.8) rating and 27 TD passes. But he also led the league with 18 turnovers. He simply can not turn the ball over this week vs. Vikings as they will make you pay. He’s got all the weapons to have a big game, especially targeting the Vikings worst Defensive player, CB X. Rhodes. He should be able to exploit him all day with either WR (Sanders or Samuel). The Niners have solid weapons and none can really just be overly covered or the other guys will make big plays. Most Defenses know this and so they just take their chances. The Vikings will throw a great D though against Jimmy G’s fav weapon, TE G. Kittle. The Vikings have the best LB (E. Kendricks) to cover Kittle of any LB in the NFL. Kendricks allowed the lowest pass completions this season (53.7%) – the lowest in the NFL since 2010. Last week the Vikings threw a curve at Brees and put their two best pass rushers (Hunter and Griffen) up the middle and it worked as they got enormous pressure on Brees. The Niners use a FB to help block and so they do slow big pass rushes for most part.
PLAY ACTION PASSERS:
Both these QB’s love to use Play action and Garappolo was best in league with 1,670 pass yards and Cousins was best in league with 13 TD’s using Play action. No OC in the league is better at dialing up Play Action pass calls than Niners HC K. Shanahan. So tiny edge to Niners in that Department.
BEST SCORING QUARTERS?
Vikings have scored 130 points this season in the second quarter and they have been fantastic allowing only 57 points in the final quarter. The Niners best scoring quarter is also the second quarter with 111 points scored then. They are also fantastic on Defense late in games allowing only 63 points in the fourth quarter.
DOWN THE WIRE CHAMPS?
Every Niners game since week 13 has been decided by a play in the final seconds. (They now are a 7 point favorite).
PASS RUSHING DOMINANCE:
Both teams had 48 Sacks this season (tied for 5th best).
SICK AND BANGED UP SUPERSTARS:
Vikings haven’t had a good week prepping for the Niners as both stud WR’s have faced a tough week so far. WR S. Diggs has been really sick and WR A. Theilen got hurt during practice and needed stitches to his foot as well. Both are expected to play.
Niners RB R. Mostert has scored a TD in 6 straight games. He also averaged (5.64) yards per carry (#1 in NFL).
BEST OFFENSIVE LINEMAN:
Vikings RT B. O’Neill allowed ZERO sacks against him all season. This is the most amazing feat in the league as this is nearly impossible to pull off for an entire season. He will face his toughest test this week though as the Niners Defense returns two studs, Kwon Alexander and Dee Ford. Forget the Niners stats the last month without these two wreckers on Defense.
RED ZONE KINGS:
The Vikings Defense was #1 in the Red Zone this season allowing a TD on only 43.8% of those drives.
HEAD REFEREE UPDATE:
Head Ref Walt Anderson (crew) has thrown the most Penalty flags this season in all of the NFL.
QB’s IN FIRST PLAYOFF GAME START WHEN #1 SEED (Jimmy G):
These QB’s haven’t fared too well as they are just (4-5 straight up) and just (2-7) ATS.
NINERS A.T.S. WOES AS THE FAVORITE:
SF is just (1-12-1) ATS as the Favorite of at least 6 points and just (9-5) straight up.
NINERS NEVER HAD BAD GAME ALL SEASON:
The Niners 3 losses this season all came on a final score against them. They went 13-3 but they did play a ton of close games.
Ok we have two very evenly matched teams but one is very well rested and the other is facing a second straight travel to a different time zone. One thing I noticed in the final month the Niners Pass rushers (mostly stud Nick Bosa) seemed to be tiring later in games. Without Ford and Alexander, Bosa stayed on field for ton more plays than normal. I think he benefited more than any other player suiting up Saturday afternoon. The point spread of SF (-7) is a bit shocking considering they play so many tight games right down to the wire. They finished #1 seed, but they got there by an inch, yes ONE INCH, as Seattle fell short in the final game by one inch, and SF would’ve played a WC game last week had Seattle got the last inch for a game ending TD. Always hard to gauge how young QB will be in his first ever Playoff start. Jimmy G has the tools, but he is a turnover machine too. Last week we saw Bills young QB J. Allen make some incredible plays, but also some terrible blunders too. This game should be a really good chess match and like last week it smells of team with the most turnovers loses this game. It will be nice weather around 55 degrees but also looking to be very windy too (17 MPH winds) which means running the ball might take the ball out of both QB hands more than both teams hoped. I am not a Cousins believer, but he did get that huge monkey off his back finally. Him having a second solid “BIG” game though in a row is something I wouldn’t bet your money on. Laying 7 points though seems a tad out of line as I made game (-3 1/2). Again hard to see the Final 8 games being as exciting as last week’s WC games. This to me is the most intriguing and hard to call games of the 4 being played this weekend.
Have a great weekend ahead and check for our Previews here at ESB on all 4 Playoff games and also soon the CFB National Title game Preview as well. We will get you prepared to make a more solid wager all weekend and into Monday night too!
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