Minnesota Vikings vs. Buffalo Bills
Date and Time: Thursday, August 10, 2017, 7 p.m. ET
Location: New Era Field, Orchard Park, NY
Preseason NFL Week 1 Opening Odds: Bills -1, O/U 37.5
Vikings vs. Bills TV Coverage: Local
Over the course of the last few seasons, Zimmer's formula for rotating his quarterbacks have remained mostly the same. His starters get two or three drives, his backup gets two or three drives, and the third-stringer comes in and plays the remainder of the game, which generally equates to about a quarter and a half.
If it ain't broke, don't fix it! The Vikings have a strong quarterback depth chart right now with Sam Bradford, Case Keenum and Taylor Heinicke.
Heinicke, of course, is going to be the man of the hour to watch. He didn't have a chance to play in the preseason last year due to injury, but the Old Dominion product has looked sharp in OTAs and training camp and figures to at least make this team as a third-stringer. If Joel Stave was able to throw for 285 yards in the preseason last year, we can only imagine that Heinicke is going to be able to do a lot better than that.
Sean McDermott is coaching in his very first game in the NFL, so what he's going to do remains a mystery with his quarterbacks. We know that Tyrod Taylor is going to start, but beyond that is anyone's guess.
We suspect we're going to see a lot of Nathan Peterman in this game. The fifth round choice out of Pittsburgh was the only quarterback to generate a win against Clemson last season, and he did so in Death Valley. That alone was good enough to get him picked. Peterman's progression led to the trade of Cardale Jones to the Chargers, and you have to think that's a good sign for the rookie's progression into his first preseason.
Even though the Vikes were a perfect 4-0 SU and ATS last preseason, let's not forget that they did have the No. 27 ranked scoring defense in the NFL at 21.2 points per game. They had some problems allowing touchdowns on special teams and from pick sixes, but they were still only a middle-of-the-road defense at 309.5 yards per game allowed and 4.6 yards per play allowed.
Buffalo only scored 55 points in the preseason, but typically, rookie head coaches look for at least a few positives to draw from their first exhibitions. It's hard to imagine the Bills not getting at least one or two touchdowns on the board in this game.
Vikings vs. Bills Free Picks
Be sure to shop around for odds at multiple sportsbooks for this game. Teasers are sure to be your friend. In the three preseason games that were more about the reserves and less about the starters for the Vikes last year, the total margin of victory was just 10 points.
We'd be happy to tease the Vikings up to +7.5 alongside over 31. Minnesota will have to score at least 13 points to get us to that point, but we don't see that being a tremendous issue when push comes to shove. With Zimmer's track record, it's hard to see him going from a man who has only lost one preseason game to ultimately losing this one by more than a touchdown against a team that very likely is going to ask a rookie quarterback to play at least a half of football.
Vikings vs. Bills ATS Pick: 6.5-Point Teaser: Vikings +7.5/Over 31 at BookMaker.eu
Vikings vs. Bills Score Prediction: Vikings 24, Bills 20