As we round out week seven of the NFL season, Minnesota Vikings fans are still waiting to see their team win a game in their home stadium. Getting that first home win tonight won’t be easy either, as Kirk Cousins and the Vikings will host a 49ers team coming off their first loss of the season. I’ll review why I think Vikings fans will likely be waiting even longer for that first home win or even cover and also why Brandon Aiyuk is in for a big night.
Brock Purdy’s regular season winning streak had to end eventually, but not many people, including myself, expected that loss to come against the Cleveland Browns. After throwing a career-high four touchdown passes the week prior against the Cowboys, Purdy and the 49ers looked primed to roll over the Browns and their backup quarterback PJ Walker. Instead, San Francisco managed a (-6.05) offensive EPA for the game, resulting in a 19-17 loss.
San Francisco’s losing effort was the first time this season they put up an offensive EPA lower than (9.73), and in the midst of that game, they also lost Deebo Samuel to a shoulder fracture. Christian McCaffrey would also be banged up after the game, but he is expected to play tonight.
While they struggled on offense and dealt with injuries, the 49ers' defense posted an (11.32) EPA for the game. However, it is worth noting that number comes entirely from their stellar passing defense, as they did allow 160 rushing yards. Luckily for them, one of the Vikings' many problems is a lack of running game, so they still pose as a brutal matchup for Kirk Cousins and the Vikings offense still without Justin Jefferson.
Minnesota enters this Monday night matchup off their second win of the year, beating the Bears 19-13. For playing one of the worst-ranked defenses in the league, the Vikings did not have their best performance, posting a (-8.38) EPA on offense.
By rushing for just 46 yards, the Vikings lowered their per-game rushing yards average to 75, which is 30th in the league. They may have had a disappointing effort offensively, but on defense, the Vikings managed a season-high (15.39) EPA and held the Bears to 275 total yards.
Coming off their first loss, San Francisco finds themselves as (-6.5) point road favorites, and I’ll be backing them for my play. Not only have the Vikings failed to cover a home game this season, but in 16 games as a primetime underdog, Kirk Cousins is 5-10-1 ATS. He isn’t entering this matchup with a lot positive momentum either, with the Vikings ranked 18th in points per game.
You can’t overreact to one game, but the Vikings' inability to produce and sustain scoring drives against the Bears' defense is concerning. Everyone knows that Cousins will drop back a lot when the Vikings are on offense, but that one-dimensional brand of football won’t work against a 49ers team that is 9th in passing yards allowed per game and 2nd in yards per pass.
San Francisco is also 5th in QB pressure percentage, putting even more pressure on a Vikings offense that is 31st in turnovers per game. One bad week also isn’t going to discourage the 49ers offense, so with McCaffrey available, San Francisco should be able to take full advantage of a Vikings defense that is 19th in rushing yards allowed per game and 25th in opponent third down conversion percentage.
Deebo Samuel’s injury means the 49ers' other offensive weapons are in line for more touches. One of those players is Brandon Aiyuk, who is already having a strong season but is primed for an even more prominent role tonight, so I’ll be taking the over on his receiving yards prop of 74.5, which is priced at (-115).
Not only is Aiyuk averaging 90.8 yards per game and has gone over this total in three of his five games, but according to PFF, he also has a top-five receiving grade against man and zone coverage. Aiyuk has a 33.7% first-read share, per FantasyPros, so without Samuel, that number should be even higher tonight against a Vikings defense that has allowed the 9th highest adjusted yards gained per passing attempt and ranks in the bottom of the league for success rate in both man and zone coverage.
San Francisco 49ers (-6.5) (-115)
Brandon Aiyuk Over 74.5 Receiving Yards (-115) on DraftKings