San Francisco (0-0) at Minnesota (0-0)
When: Sunday, September 9th 2018
Where: U.S. Bank Stadium,
Time: 1:00 ET | TV: FOX
Opening Odds: Minnesota -5/46.5
Optimism is very high in San Francisco this year, as the 49ers are hoping that quarterback Jimmy Garappolo’s late-season success continues into the 2018 season. The Niners will begin the season with a tough test when they visit the Minnesota Vikings in Week 1 action on Sunday afternoon from U.S. Bank Stadium. San Francisco acquired Garoppolo midway through the 2017 season and he led the team to a 5-0 finish, fueling the expectations 49ers’ fans have this year. San Francisco has gone four straight seasons without making the playoffs but second-year head coach Kyle Shanahan looks to change that trend. San Francisco WR Marquise Goodwin benefited from the acquisition of Garrapolo, recording 962 receiving yards after totaling 780 over his first four NFL seasons with Buffalo. The Vikings reached the NFC Championship Game last season only to get blown out by eventual Super Bowl champion Philadelphia, but decided to get rid of all their quarterbacks to make room for one. Kirk Cousins was signed for $84 million over three years and Minnesota dumped playoff hero Case Keenum, Sam Bradford and Teddy Bridgewater. Cousins has eclipsed 4,000 yards each of the last three years with Washington. The Vikings led the NFL in total defense (275.9 yards per game) last season, and their 13-3 record was the second-best mark in team history. Wideout Adam Thielen is dealing with an ankle issue, but is expected to play for Minnesota on Sunday, and is coming off a 91-catch, 1,276-yard season. The Vikings have won three of the last four meetings, including a 20-3 victory in 2015.
San Francisco improved their defense in the offseason by adding All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman, who leads all of the NFL with 32 interceptions (while with Seattle) since 2011, and is fully recovered from an Achilles injury. Garappolo will not have the benefit of a strong running game behind him, as newcomer Jerrick McKinnon (former Viking) suffered a season-ending knee injury. Recent addition Alfred Morris and Matt Breida – who missed most of the preseason with a shoulder injury – will share the load. Garoppolo passed for 1,542 yards in his five starts last year and completed at least 70 percent of his passes in three of those games.
A lot of Minnesota’s success on offense will hinge on the health of running back Dalvin Cook, who rushed for 354 yards in parts of four games last season before tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, but he has recovered and is ready to go. Thielen and Stefon Diggs form one of the top receiving duos in the league, combining for 155 catches and 12 touchdowns. Minnesota’s terrific defense is led by star defensive end Everson Griffin (career-best 13 sacks last season) and veteran safety Harrison Smith (career high-tying five interceptions). The unit was second in the NFL in both passing and rushing defense and first in total yards allowed.
Everyone seems high on this San Francisco team, but can their offensive line protect Garoppolo against this fierce Vikings defense? I don’t think so. Not only does Minnesota have a Super Bowl-caliber defense, but now the offense should be pretty explosive with Cousins at the helm and a healthy Cook. I like the Vikings to roll here.
Pick: Vikings -6.5
- 49ers are 6-1 ATS in their last 7 games in Week 1.
- 49ers are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 road games.
- 49ers are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games overall.
- 49ers are 2-5 ATS in their last 7 games on fieldturf.
- Vikings are 7-1 ATS in their last 8 games in September.
- Vikings are 42-19 ATS in their last 61 games overall.
- Vikings are 35-16 ATS in their last 51 games on fieldturf.
- Vikings are 34-16-1 ATS in their last 51 home games.
- Vikings are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 vs. NFC.
- Under is 4-0 in 49ers last 4 games in Week 1.
- Over is 6-2 in 49ers last 8 games on fieldturf.
- Under is 5-2 in Vikings last 7 home games.
- Under is 9-4 in Vikings last 13 games in September.
- Under is 5-1 in the last 6 meetings.
- Underdog is 5-1 ATS in their last 6 meetings.
- Home team is 7-2 ATS in their last 9 meetings.