The Thursday Night NFL football game may not approximate a ‘marquee matchup’ of top teams but is definitely an interesting game. The Vikings have improved dramatically from past season–after winning only 3 games in 2011 Minnesota is 5-2 and in contention for the top spot in the NFC North. Tampa Bay hasn’t had quite as much success under first year coach Greg Shiano but they’ve become much more competitive than last year’s 4-12 squad under Raheem Morris. Some are of the opinion that Minnesota may be somewhat overrated due to their early season success and that Tampa Bay is likely to improve as the year progresses.
THE PROP BETTING STORYLINE:
In many ways, the storylines emphasized in the prop bets at Topbet Sportsbook are even more compelling than the game itself. Without a dominant superstar on either side of the ball for either team–the possible exception being Vikings’ running back Adrian Peterson–there’s no immediately apparent ‘favorite’ in any of these wagers. It looks to be a game where anything can happen and in that type of scenario the potential for big underdog payoffs is always there.
WILL THE QUARTERBACKS THROW AN INTERCEPTION?
One proposition asks if either quarterback will throw an interception. Tampa Bay’s Josh Freeman has thrown five picks in six game this season. His Vikings’ counterpart Christian Ponder has thrown six in seven games. Not surprisingly, both quarterbacks are priced in the same range to throw an interception–Ponder is a -200 choice to throw an INT while Freeman is -220. The way these two men have gone about accumulating these turnovers is different–Freeman has thrown at least one ‘pick’ in four of his games while Ponder has thrown his 6 interceptions in a total of three games.
OR WON’T THEY?
Another interesting component of this handicap is the head to head matchup–neither team features a high scoring, pass oriented offense and more often than not relies on their running game. For that reason they’ll both looking to run the ball which should keep the scoring–and the risk of interception–down. Another important consideration is the way the defenses have played so far this season. Tampa Bay’s biggest defensive strength is their run defense–this results in teams trying to pass on them and they’ve done a good job exploiting this with 9 defensive interceptions (tied for #6 in the league). Minnesota’s pass coverage hasn’t been as effective–they’re tied for #23 with only 4 defensive interceptions this season.
Ultimately, the betting value is likely with the contrarian position. Josh Freeman is +180 to *not* throw an interception while Christian Ponder is priced at +160. Both teams will be looking to establish their rushing game and neither coach trusts their young quarterback to throw downfield. A bet that each quarterback will go without an interception has a lot of upside potential with little downside risk. If neither quarterback gets intercepted it’s a +340 profit and if only one does its a small loss. Given the statistical profiles of each quarterback and the team’s defenses, a game where both are interception is the least likely scenario.