By Charles Jay
The Minnesota Vikings felt as if they could use an upgrade at the quarterback position after falling short in the NFC playoffs. So they reached out and signed the most coveted free agent on the market. And their discard actually became an upgrade for the Denver Broncos, so both teams will unveil their new signal-callers, each of which played will be competing against former teammates, in the pre-season NFL opener, which is set to begin at 9 PM ET at Mile High Stadium in Denver. And of course, if you are a BetAnySports customer, you’re going to have the opportunity to stay with the action, even while it is transpiring, if you choose to access Live Betting Ultra.
The Vikings were the team that won out when it came to signing Kirk Cousins, who became somewhat expert at running the West Coast offense. The deal was worth almost $90 million, and it also hastened the departure of Case Keenum, the career journeyman who played so well for Minnesota when Sam Bradford got injured. But since Keenum’s stock was at an all-time high, John Elway, the chief football executive with the Broncos, felt that he was the solution for the team’s inconsistency behind center, so he signed Keenum and bypassed a chance to take a QB in the first round in the draft.
And since Trevor Siemian, who had held the starting job for the better part of two years, was let go, the Vikes, who now needed a backup signed him to a deal. On top of that Kyle Sloter, who also played for Denver last year, is a Minnesota quarterback as well.
With these two teams, defense is the driving force. But things like field position and execution in the red zone also matter. While the Vikings should have something that runs smoother this season, the jury still has to be out on the Broncos.
In the football betting odds at BetAnySports upon which our NFL pre-season picks will be made, the Vikings are favored:
Minnesota Vikings -1
Denver Broncos +1
Over 36.5 points -110
Under 36.5 points -110
Denver hopes to be even better when it comes to putting pressure on opposing quarterbacks this season, and toward that end they took Bradley Chubb with a first-round pick. So he will combine with Von Miller, who Denver’s backups are already very familiar with.
Siemian was the option the Broncos came up with when they had to replace Peyton Manning. Brock Osweiler had already cashed in with a big deal from Houston, and Mark Sanchez did not prove equal to the task. Siemian kept the job for a second year, because Paxton Lynch had injury problems and had not developed enough. The seventh-round draft pick out of Northwestern did the best he could, but his years-per-attempt average (6.5) did not compare favorably with most other quarterbacks, and his 14 interceptions were too many for a signal-caller who was not able to get the ball down the field that well.
But in this pre-season game, the dynamic may be a bit different. Not that he will throw the long ball, but you could imagine that he will be somewhat determined to show the Broncos that they may have made a mistake with him. The same could be said of Sloter, the second-year man out of Northern Colorado who completed 72% of his pre-season passes without an interception in 2017.
On top of that, consider that by and large, Minnesota head coach Mike Zimmer has been a competitor in pre-season games, going 13-4 straight-up and 12-5 against the number. When asked about the status of Dalvin Cook, who looked like a sensation through three games of his rookie season until getting sidelined with a knee injury, Zimmer didn’t even flinch when saying that he was ready to go. But that was earlier in the week. Subsequently he was ruled out with a sore knee.
In our NFL picks, we’re happy to go with Zimmer’s history and more playing time for backup QB’s, at least one of which (Siemian) has had hundreds of reps against this Denver defense. A vote here for the Vikings as we continue Wager WAR, the battle for the World WagerSport Ultimate Championship.
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