The Patriots (6-4) and Vikings (8-2) face off in Minnesota this weekend in what could prove to be a pivotal matchup with playoff implications in both conferences. New England is very much in contention for the AFC East title, with Bill Belichick’s squad just one win behind the division-leading Dolphins and Bills (7-3). The Vikings, meanwhile, look to remain in the running for the NFC’s No. 1 seed, sitting just one win behind the conference-leading Eagles (9-1).
These teams enjoyed polar-opposite fates in Week 11, but both squads will be looking to turn it up offensively this weekend.
Last weekend, New England stifled the division-rival Jets, holding them to 101 total yards and six first downs. The highlight of the Pats’ week, however, was rookie Marcus Jones’ punt-return TD for the near-walk-off win. That game-winning play gave Belichick’s boys their third-straight victory and fifth “W” in the past six games.
Minnesota knows a little something about winning streaks. Entering Week 11, the Vikings had won seven consecutive games and had just come off an improbable victory over Buffalo. However, the Cowboys came into U.S. Bank Stadium last weekend and punched them in the mouth to the tune of a 40-3 bludgeoning. Kirk Cousins got sacked seven times, the Vikes managed just one third-down conversion in 11 tries, and Minnesota set season lows in total yards (183) and passing yards (110). Kevin O’Connell’s squad also forced zero turnovers for the first time all season.
WEEK 12 NFL PICKS: Against the Spread | Straight up
Suffice it to say, both these squads will be looking to turn it up this Turkey Day. Let’s dive deeper into this matchup, checking out the betting odds and trends as well as noteworthy stats and storylines before ultimately making our prediction.
Patriots at Vikings odds for NFL Week 12
Odds courtesy of BetMGM.
- Spread: Vikings -3 (-105); Patriots +3 (-115)
- Total: OVER 44.5 (-110); UNDER 44.5 (-110)
- Moneyline: Vikings -150; Patriots +125
Minnesota sat as 3.5-point favorites on the look-ahead line but has since been trimmed down to -3 after their stunning 37-point loss to Dallas. The total has also seen some movement. BetQL’s line movement analytics show the lookahead over/under at 43.5, then dipping to 42 early this week, only to slightly jump up to 42.5. Oddsmakers are giving a ton of respect to the New England defense, likely taking into account the Pats’ recent low-scoring wins and Minnesota’s struggles against Micah Parsons and the Cowboys.
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Patriots vs. Vikings all-time series
The Patriots lead the all-time series against the Vikings 9-4 and have won five straight meetings dating back to 2002. This will be Bill Belichick’s first game against Minnesota since the end of the Tom Brady era in New England.
Patriots at Vikings: Three trends to know
— New England has gone 6-3-1 against the spread this season, while Minnesota is just 4-5-1 ATS.
— Since 2002, the Patriots are 135-49 in post-bye regular-season games (.733 winning percentage).
— Kirk Cousins is 0-2 lifetime against New England. He has two TDs and three interceptions against the Pats with a paltry 69.4 QB rating and just 209 passing yards per game.
MORE WEEK 12 NFL: Odds, lines, spreads
Patriots at Vikings: Three things to watch for
Can Kirk Cousins survive New England’s pass rush and bounce back from an abysmal Week 11?
Cousins looked like an MVP candidate heading into last week, leading Minnesota to an 8-1 start and even pulling off an improbable comeback win over Buffalo. But Dallas stopped him in his tracks, holding him to a season-low 105 passing yards and 52.17 completion percentage while sacking him seven times and forcing a fumble. In one game, the Vikings seemingly went from Super Bowl contender to a squad that will be lucky to win a playoff game. The biggest thing to watch will be how Minnesota’s offensive line and Cousins handle themselves against the Pats’ stout pass-rush. Patriots pass-rusher Matthew Judon has emerged as a Defensive Player of the Year candidate, racking up an NFL-high 13 sacks. New England has averaged five sacks per game over its past three contests. Cousins has lost four of the past five games in which he’s been sacked at least five times.
Will Bill Belichick’s defense be able to contain Justin Jefferson?
Belichick and the Patriots defense are notorious for neutralizing the opponent’s No. 1 threat, but that will be put to the test this Thursday against the best wide receiver in football. Maybe Belichick will take some notes from the Cowboys’ approach in Week 11, a game that saw JJ haul in just three catches for 33 yards. The NFL leader in yards per touch for the second season in a row, JJ will be looking to bounce back but will certainly need to work for a big game. This is the best receiving corps New England will have faced since Week 1 against the Dolphins when Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle combined for 163 yards and a TD.
Can the Patriots’ offense score enough to beat a playoff team?
New England should absolutely be proud of its 6-4 record, but the big picture comes into perspective when you look at who the Patriots have actually defeated: Pittsburgh with Mitchell Trubisky, Detroit without D’Andre Swift, Cleveland with Jacoby Brissett, Indy with Sam Ehlinger, and the Jets twice. None of those teams would make the playoffs if the regular season ended today. The two playoff teams the Pats have faced — the Dolphins and Ravens — beat New England by a combined score of 57-33. The biggest question mark for Belichick’s squad has been offense. Rhamondre Stevenson and Damien Harris are a fine 1-2 punch at running back, but can second-year QB Mac Jones, who has yet to throw for two TDs in a game this season, muster enough firepower to out-duel Cousins and company?
Patriots at Vikings: Stat that matters
6-1. That’s New England’s record when it wins or ties the turnover battle. Across their six wins, the Pats have five turnovers and a whopping 12 takeaways. Across their four losses, the Pats have 12 turnovers and just five takeaways. It could be a long Thanksgiving night for Jones, who will face a Minnesota defense averaging 2.6 sacks and 1.8 takeaways per game. The Vikings have a +0.7 turnover margin on the season, tied for third-best in the NFL.
Patriots at Vikings prediction
While Belichick has owned Kirk Cousins in the two games these two have met, he also has yet to face this iteration of the Vikings’ offense around Cousins. Justin Jefferson, T.J. Hockenson, and Dalvin Cook provide Minnesota with elite offensive firepower at three different positions, and the Patriots counter with one of the weaker passing games in the entire league. While we fully expect New England’s defense to continue impressing, we don’t like the Pats’ chances of winning outright. Buy a half-point if you are going to bet this game either way. The Vikings are deserving favorites at home, even coming off a walloping at the hands of Dallas, but this game has push written all over it. The Pats can run the ball and make some things happen defensively, but they have not defeated a playoff offense all season. We don’t expect that to change in Minneapolis on Thanksgiving night.
PREDICTION: Vikings 23, Patriots 20. Minnesota wins but the spread (-3) pushes, while the OVER (42.5) hits by a half-point. Buy a half-point on either side of this spread for insurance.