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Minnesota Vikings vs. San Francisco 49ers Point Spread - Pick

Minnesota Vikings (11-6 SU, 10-7 ATS) vs. San Francisco 49ers (13-3 SU, 9-6-1 ATS)
NFC Divisional Playoffs
Date/Time: Saturday, January 11, 2020 at 4:35PM EST
Where: Levi's Stadium, Santa Clara, California
TV: NBC

By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

Point Spread: MIN +6.5/SF -6.5
Over/Under Total: 45

The Minnesota Vikings come to Levi's Stadium on Saturday for a NFC Divisional Playoff matchup with the San Francisco 49ers. The Niners sat out last week, the rewards of being the top-seed in the NFC coming off a 13-3 season. After upsetting the Saints last week, the Vikings now look to score another one, but will have their hands full. Still, after watching their gutty 26-20 overtime win on the road last week, the Vikes can't be sold short. Who is in a better position to cover the spread this week?

The Vikings may not have finished the regular season that well, but they sure hit the ground running last week at the Superdome. The late-clutch of Kirk Cousins was impressive, especially in the overtime period where two passes placed on a dime proved to the decisive blows in the big upset win. With a couple turnovers, disruptive play up-front with Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter, and some stout play against the pass and run, the defense was able to hold a high-powered home Saints offense to only 20 points. Sure, we've seen some flaws this season—inconsistent play on defense, injuries compromising the offense, and having trouble with the better teams on their schedule. But they sure looked to be at full-power on Sunday against the Saints.

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Having most of their key pieces in the mix and performing well was huge for the Vikings and Kirk Cousins. Dalvin Cook looked good, rushing for two touchdowns, while making a few key catches. Getting Adam Thielen back paid off, even though he made some early mistakes, as his overtime reception was a great moment for the team, setting up the TD throw to Kyle Rudolph for the win. With Stefon Diggs, RB Alexander Mattison, and other role contributors, this offense can make things happen. And with Cousins exorcising his big-game demons with some super-clutch late game play on Sunday, this is not an offense that can be overlooked, even by a good Frisco "D."

A big part of the win on Sunday was how well the Vikings' defense played in the Wild Card round. Sometimes exploitable against the pass, they gave up a lot of short passes to Brees and Company on Sunday, while never really allowing the kind of devastating plays that can change a game. On the ground, they were largely effective and if not for some big plays from Taysom Hill, they would have been even better. A late turnover as the Saints were driving was gigantic. And this week, this side of the ball will be called upon in a major way.

The Niners were able to rest some weary bodies after finishing the season on such a strong note, as they locked up the top seed in the playoffs. They may have cooled down some after a rousing 8-0 start to the season, but they sure looked strong to finish the season, with a rousing final drive by Jimmy Garoppolo allowing them to beat the Seahawks and win the NFC East to lock up homefield advantage and a week off, while Minnesota was grinding on the road in an overtime game. They do a lot of things really well, like run the ball. And on the other side of the ball, they are among the stoutest and most-disruptive defenses in the league—along with what might be the best secondary in football.

We've been seeing some better showings from the San Fran offense of late, namely with the better performances of Garoppolo. He had some big games coming down the stretch, with some key moments that show he might have the right touch after all. He has a key weapon in tight end George Kittle, who looks to be a force in this postseason after a big close to the regular season. With Deebo Samuel becoming a huge weapon and Emmanuel Sanders fitting right into place, Garoppolo has a lot of weapons and that's before even getting into the deep ground-game. With Raheem Mostert, Matt Breida, Tevin Coleman, Jeff Wilson, Jr, and even Samuel having some big runs lately, it's a powerful package of weapons.

A dominant earlier-season San Francisco defense waned some at points in the second-half of the season. And giving up a total of 127 points in their last four games coming into this might not bode well against these powerful NFC offenses in the playoffs. It was not befitting of a defense that still finished second overall in the NFL in yards allowed. They do a lot of things well. Getting after the quarterback is one of them, with Arik Armstead, Nick Bosa, DeForest Buckner, and others really getting after it. The middle is formidable with Fred Warner and Dre Greenlaw very active. And with a resurgent Richard Sherman, Jaquiski Tartt, Kimmie Ward, K'Waun Williams, and others, their secondary has given up the fewest passing yards of any team in the league. The issue then, of course, is if they rediscover this form. The week off was probably a time to focus on this side of the ball and I'd look for them to be pumped up and on-point at home this week in this high-stakes matchup.

It's one of those weird seasons. Even the frontrunners in this conference are dicey, as we saw a 13-win Saints team exploited at home last week by this Vikings team. The top dogs don't seem so tip-top and you wonder if the 49ers peaked early. And that doesn't even necessarily mean I think they'll lose the game. I just see the Vikings matching up well in enough areas to warrant forecasting a somewhat-close game. I'll take the points in this one.

Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the Minnesota Vikings plus 6.5 points. Bet the Minnesota vs. San Francisco game for FREE by taking advantage of a massive 100% sign-up bonus on your first deposit of $100 to $500 at GTBets!

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