The NFL calendar turns to Week 4 with the Rams hosting the Vikings in a premier Thursday night matchup. For this game and every other primetime contest, we’ll break down the sports betting lines and recommend where to place your bets at DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook.
Keep an eye on injury news right up until kick off since things can change quickly in the NFL. Any player listed as questionable may see limited action or not suit up at all if they don’t respond well in warm-ups.
Week 4 Thursday Night Football Betting
Minnesota Vikings at Los Angeles Rams NJ Odds
While the Rams defense is good on paper, reality has begun to diminish that unit. Starting CBs Aqib Talib (ankle, IR) and Marcus Peters (calf, doubtful) went down last week. Peters got in a limited practice on Wednesday, but Adam Schefter reports that Peters is unlikely to play tonight.
Talented ILB Mark Barron (ankle) is questionable to suit up this Thursday, and the Vikings could be without starting RB Dalvin Cook (hamstring). Both Barron and Cook got in limited reps on Wednesday. The Vikings are “optimistic” Cook will play.
Should Peters fail to suit up, Stefon Diggs could have a field day. The Rams will likely use veteran Sam Shields at LCB, but he’s lost a step at the age of 30 and missed all of 2017 with a concussion. They may have to use third-stringer Troy Hill at RCB with Talib out.
Adam Thielen is primarily operating out of the slot, where the Rams still have a strong presence in Nickell Robey-Coleman. But the Vikings’ savvy coaching staff may adjust to get Diggs and Thielen, as well as Laquon Treadwell, into one-on-one matchups with the inexperienced Hill.
Thielen has seen at least 12 targets in three straight games and is a rock-solid option regardless of matchup. Thielen and Diggs have combined for over 80 percent of Minnesota’s air yards and 45.6 percent of targets. Theoretically, that should make it easier for the Rams to shade coverage toward them and avoid one-on-one matchups with their backup CBs.
Minnesota’s rushing attack is a liability, however, and ranks 29th in yards per carry average. With Cook out, Latavius Murray and rookie Mike Boone combined for just 12 yards rushing against a pathetic Bills team. It’s unlikely they’ll manage anything against the Rams’ elite defensive line. It’s led by two of the best players in football, Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh.
That said, Kirk Cousins is looking at a high-volume day. He may make for a GPP option in Showdown DFS contests on DraftKings and FanDuel to be paired with his two receivers. The Rams have given up the fourth-most receiving yards (268) to opposing TEs, but zero touchdowns. This makes Kyle Rudolph a true longshot to produce in the box score.
It’s quite possible the Vikings’ struggles continue if Cook isn’t at full strength, leading to a lopsided win for the Rams or at least a point total that goes under 49.5. Since Cook has been limited in practice, he’s unlikely to make a dramatic difference if active. The Rams’ defense could feast if the Vikings’ offense becomes one dimensional.
The Vikings’ defense is no pushover either despite getting dismantled by rookie QB Josh Allen in the first half of Sunday’s loss. Minnesota will be without DE Everson Griffen (personal) and potentially without starting CB Trae Waynes (ankle). For what it’s worth, Mike Hughes has proven capable in relief of Waynes.
Minnesota ranks 12th in DVOA rush defense, but Todd Gurley is matchup proof. He only managed 46 yards on 18 touches in a 24-7 loss at Minnesota last season but should find more room behind an improved offensive line at home.
The Vikings have a couple tackling machines at LB in Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks. They should help keep Gurley in check and this game relatively low scoring.
The Vikings also have one of the best secondaries in the league, led by elite safety Harrison Smith and shutdown CB Xavier Rhodes.
Robert Woods erupted in Week 3 eruption, and he may avoid Rhodes’ coverage if the Vikings use their top cover man to shadow the dangerous Brandin Cooks.
All in all, Rams HC Sean McVay is an offensive genius. He will move his receivers around and use Cooks in creative situations. Woods, Cooks, and Cooper Kupp have accounted for 93% of the Rams’ air yards this season, making them all Cash options in DFS contests.
Kupp has the least upside with a solid floor. Woods seems like the best bet to produce if Rhodes follows Cooks around the field.
The overall efficacy of the Rams’ offense guarantees a certain amount of offensive production, but the Vikings’ offense isn’t trustworthy with essentially just two weapons at their disposal.
That makes the Over (49.5 points) a risky bet, especially on Thursday nights when offenses tend to struggle, and the home team usually stands strong defensively. Taking the Rams (-7) is a bit bold because the Vikings are in a bounce-back spot and are capable on defense. As of now, nearly 60 percent of the money is taking the points with the Vikings in this road game. The total is shaping up to be a Pros vs. Joes scenario with over 60 percent of the bets on the Over. Meanwhile, 60 percent of the money is on the Under.