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Minnesota Vikings vs. San Francisco 49ers Odds & Game Pick (2021)

by November 25, 2021
Kirk Cousins

The 11th ranked (by DVOA) Vikings head west to take on the 7th ranked 49ers this Sunday. These two eerily similar teams match-up in essentially a playoff game, as both hold 55-60% playoff odds heading into the contest.

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Ryan’s Season Totals

Assigned Games: 14-13-1 

Best Bets: 20-11, Up 1058%

Details

  • Opening Line: San Francisco -3
  • Current Line: San Francisco -3
  • Over/Under: 48
  • Location: Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, CA
  • Start Time: 4:25 PM EST, SUN 11/28
  • Last Meeting: 49ers 27, Vikings 10 at Santa Clara in 2020

Overview

Thus far the Vikings Offense has been led by the very underrated Kirk Cousins’ performance, currently listed as the 2nd rated QB by SIS Points Above Replacement. Tactically, the biggest change has been the personnel shift from 21 to 11 reps. The perennial “heavy team” had to figure out if that would be feasible with all the turnover at TE. Thus far, it’s clear the direction HC Zimmer is going (possibly reluctantly):

The 49ers came into the 2021 season riding a wave of positive regression. From being #1 Yards per Points, #1 Fumble Recovery Luck, to #4 as a 3rd Down rebound team, mathematical variance was in their cards. This is all not to mention the injury luck that should have come their way (although there have been multiple studies that show Santa Clara may be the causal variable in the 49ers' insane lack of luck in the injury department). Additionally, the 49ers made what seemed to be sound offseason moves (at least in free agency) adding multiple pass rushers that had legit pressure numbers. 

The similarities between these squads extends beyond both boasting a top 5 (DVOA) consistency rank. Besides the obvious: use of wide zone runs, pre-snap motion, and play-action matched to the run game, both teams are known for the heavier personnel on offense, and both (a lack of) using 11 personnel (1 RB, 1 TE) 45% of the time (5th least in the NFL). Also, both teams are early down run first, and the two rank 1st and 2nd in the league in under-center snaps (vs. shotgun). Both coaches also own some interesting betting trends: Vikings HC Mike Zimmer owns the 2nd best ATS since he took over as HC at 59% (in-season), while 49ers HC Kyle Shannahan has won 73% of their games with Jimmy Garappolo and Shannahan together.

Now that we know how similar these teams are, how do they match up against each other? The first item that jumps out is the 49ers' strong net pass rush advantage (on both sides) based on PFF rankings. This may be offset by how often the 49ers send the blitz (8th most in the league) and the fact Cousins actually performs better when faced with a blitz (17th in EPA when NOT blitzed, yet 8th when blitzed by SIS Data Hub). Lastly, from a tactical standpoint, Cousins has performed far better vs MFC defenses (about 7% points better by SIS Data), and the 49ers use the 8th most MFC/Single-High defenses in the league.

Trends

  • The OVER is 6-1 in the Vikings last seven road games.
  • The UNDER is 7-1 in the last eight meetings between these teams.
  • The 49ers are 1-8 SU in their last nine home games.

Bottom Line


This is another game that’s tough to handicap based on the similarities of the teams. However, given the marginal tactical advantages in the Vikings favor, and the feeling they are just hitting their stride, we are going to side with Minnesota in this game.

Prediction: 49ers 23, Vikings 21

The Picks: Vikings -3, UNDER 48

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