The legend of Joshua Dobbs heads up the mountain to face the prime-time lights as the Minnesota Vikings visit the Denver Broncos tonight on Sunday Night Football.
Dobbs has been the unlikely hero of the 2023 season, keeping the Arizona Cardinals competitive before being traded to Minnesota following Kirk Cousins’ season-ending injury.
In two games at quarterback for the Vikings, Dobbs has led the team to outright wins as underdogs, extending Minnesota’s winning streak to five games (5-0 ATS). Dobbs & Co. once again find themselves catching points in the Week 11 odds.
Denver has been playing solid football the past month and is coming off a huge upset in Buffalo on Monday night. The Broncos are on an 3-0 ATS run against the NFL odds and laying just short of a field goal in this non-conference clash.
I break down the spread and total for Sunday Night Football and give my best NFL picks and predictions for Vikings vs. Broncos on November 19.
Vikings vs Broncos odds
Vikings vs Broncos predictions
Minnesota rides a five-game winning streak and the improbable play of Joshua Dobbs into its third road game in four weeks. As for Denver, it’s playing on a short week after stunning the Buffalo Bills on Monday Night Football in Week 10.
Given the Vikes’ shakeup under center and injured skill position, it’s tough to measure Minnesota against its past merits. And the same can be said for Sean Payton’s team, which has been brought back from the dead since Week 6.
The Broncos’ defensive turnaround is remarkable considering just how terrible Vance Joseph’s unit was through the opening five weeks of play. Shake-ups at all levels of the stop unit as well as getting some key bodies back from injury have made the difference for Denver.
The Broncos have gone from dead last in EPA allowed per play (0.225) in the opening five weeks to 10th (-0.056) in that advanced metric in the past four outings. They’ve done so against some quality competition as well, locking up Kansas City twice as well as Buffalo this past Monday.
Denver is also much more dangerous on the defensive side of the ball, creating 10 takeaways over the last four outings, including two interceptions and two fumble recoveries in the win over Buffalo.
“It was the difference,” Payton told the media after Monday’s win. “Our defensive takeaways – and honestly, it’ll be the key for us as we move forward these next few weeks.”
The Vikings offense has coughed up 17 total turnovers to opponents this season, including a league-high 12 fumbles. While Dobbs has been mistake-free in his first two appearances for Minnesota, he’s turnover-prone with five INTs and a league-high 11 fumbles in 2023.
Add in the potential for wet weather on Sunday night, and the Denver defense will continue to cause chaos and steal possessions away from Dobbs and the Vikings.
My best bet: Denver Broncos Moneyline (-138 at FanDuel)
Picks made at time of writing may not reflect live odds.
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Vikings vs Broncos same-game parlay
Joshua Dobbs Under 225.5 passing yards
Jerry Jeudy Over 41.5 receiving yards
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The Broncos defense continues to cause chaos and leads Denver to a fourth straight victory.
Dobbs comes back to earth while the Broncos’ methodical offense limits his touches Sunday night.
Jerry Jeudy is in a “buy low” spot coming off a quiet game last Monday. His projections peg the Broncos WR1 for 50-plus yards.
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Vikings vs Broncos spread and Over/Under analysis
A lot has changed since books set the look-ahead line for this primetime outing at Broncos -2.5 before the results of Week 10. But even with Minnesota keeping its win streak alive and Denver dumping the Bills in Orchard Park, this official Week 11 opener was Broncos -2.5.
That spread has stayed put as of Thursday afternoon, with Covers Consensus showing 58% of early picks siding with the red-hot Vikings in Week 11.
Dobbs has made believers out of bettors, helping the Vikes cash in as pups the past two games. Minnesota has scored 31 and 27 points in victories over Atlanta and New Orleans, and Dobbs has come up big with both his arm and his legs in key spots.
He could get help with the potential return of star WR Justin Jefferson, who has been limited in practice since coming off the IR this week. Jefferson has been sidelined with a hamstring injury since Week 6. Running back Alexander Mattison is another question mark for the Vikings, as he missed Wednesday’s practice due to a concussion.
That group faces a Denver defense making major improvements since its historically bad start to the season.
The Broncos have allowed a collective 64 points the past four games – an average of just 16 points against per outing – after infamously giving up 70 points in a loss to Miami in Week 3 and an average of 36.2 ppg in the opening five weeks.
That 180 on defense has helped the Denver offense as well. The Broncos aren’t having to play from behind, allowing a more balanced playbook from head coach Sean Payton. Denver is running the ball well, sitting No. 8 in EPA per handoff since Week 6, and marched for 122 yards and owned 37:21 in time of possession versus the Bills.
The Vikings stop unit has been hit or miss this season, with inconsistent efforts week to week. Defensive coordinator Brian Flores runs an aggressive scheme that blitzes at a league-high 49% of dropbacks but isn’t necessarily generating pressure from those extra rushers.
Broncos veteran QB Russell Wilson has struggled against the blitz this season, sitting 45th among all NFL QBs in offensive rating when blitzed at PFF.com. He’s completing less than 61% of his passes and averaging only 6.9 yards per attempt in those situations.
Denver does have a solid offensive line, which ranks in the Top 10 for both pass and run block win rate at ESPN, yet Wilson has the fifth highest pressure rate faced in the NFL which has led to 30 sacks. Much of the blame is on him for not getting rid of the ball quicker, given his 2.7 average seconds of time in the pocket.
Sunday night’s Over/Under total opened at 43 points and is currently as low as 42.5 as of Thursday. Covers Consensus shows a slight 51% lean in terms of picks for the Under.
The Broncos had topped the total in four of their first five games but have since stayed Under the number in four straight thanks to this defensive renaissance. Denver’s offense is efficient – but not explosive – and runs one of the slower paces at 29.8 seconds per snap.
Minnesota owns a 3-7 Over/Under count so far in 2023 but has cashed in for the Over in the two games with Dobbs at quarterback. He may not have the passing prowess of Cousins but his ability to break off gains and move the chains with his legs has given a new dynamic to Kevin O’Connell’s offense.
The forecast for Mile High is calling for chances of rain with wind gusts up to 20 mph and game-time temperatures feeling like 40 degrees Sunday night.
Vikings vs Broncos betting trend to know
The Broncos are a strong first-half bet at home, leading at the break in seven of their last 10 home stands (+5.61 units). Denver is a perfect 5-0 on the 1H moneyline at home this season, boasting an average halftime margin of +5.8 points inside Mile High. Find more NFL betting trends for Vikings vs. Broncos.
Vikings vs Broncos game info
|Location:||Empower Field at Mile High, Denver, CO|
|Date:||Sunday, November 19, 2023|
|Kickoff:||8:20 p.m. ET|
|Opening odds:||Broncos -2.5, 43|
Vikings vs Broncos latest injuries
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