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Finally home again, Vikings should dispose of Bengals

Well, that was a rough week.

My picks zigged. The NFL zagged.

Even the world’s ultimate check-down pick, New England, lost a game while favored by 11 ½ on the road, for gosh sakes. The Patriots looked so doggone bad – 0-for-11 on third downs – they’re now favored by 2 ½ points on the road against the team with the best record in the AFC.

Vegas has seen this script before. Beware of the wounded, but refocused Patriot.

I picked the Bears to lose because they’re really good at it. They won 33-7. Picked the Broncos to lose because they’ve perfected it. They won 23-0.

At least I took the over on number of Seahawks ejected during victory formations (2).

The picks went 8-8 straight-up and 6-10 against the spread last week. After picking the Vikings to lose in Atlanta and win in Carolina, I’m suddenly chasing purple ghosts with an 8-5 record in picking Vikings games.

At least they play a team I know they’ll beat at home this week. Right? I mean the Bengals are 10 ½-point underdogs and just lost by 27 at home to the Bears. They couldn’t possibly come in here and … ah, you better not answer that one until Sunday evening.

Naturally, the Upset Not-So-Special had the Raiders winning at K.C. But, never fear, we’re taking that 3-11 curse to Carolina and pinning it to Aaron Rodgers and the 2 ½-point underdog Packers. Sorry, Packers fans. Vikings fans, you’re welcome.

There are seven road favorites this week. One of them isn’t 8-5 Tennessee at 3-10 San Francisco. In Jimmy, Vegas Trusts. Or maybe the Titans are overrated. Even I accurately picked them to lose to Arizona last week.

Here are this week’s games …

Broncos minus-2 1/2 at Colts: Colts by 3

Bears plus-5 1/2 at Lions: Lions by 7

Bengals plus-10 1/2 at Vikings: Vikings 27, Bengals 21

Even with the longest injury report of the season by far, I feel the Vikings won’t let last week’s loss at Carolina bleed into this week’s home game against the inferior Bengals. Cincinnati might bring a little extra juice defensively to try and impress Mike Zimmer, their former defensive coordinator, but the home crowd will favor Zimmer’s defense. If the Vikings win the turnover battle and stop the run, they’ll win this game. But I think it could be more of a struggle than many might think.

Dolphins plus-2 1/2 at Bills: Bills by 3

Ravens minus-7 1/2 at Browns: Ravens by 20

Texans plus-11 1/2 at Jaguars: Jaguars by 7

Eagles minus-7 1/2 at Giants: Eagles by 10

Cardinals plus-4 1/2 at Redskins: Redskins by 7

Jets plus-16 1/2 at Saints: Saints by 14

Chargers minus-1 1/2 at Chiefs: Chargers by 7

Rams plus-1/2; at Seahawks: Seahawks by 3

Patriots minus-1/2 at Steelers: Patriots by 7

Titans plus-1/2 at 49ers: Titans by 3

Cowboys minus-3 1/2 at Raiders: Cowboys by 7

Falcons minus-6 1/2 at Buccaneers: Falcons by 7

UPSET SPECIAL

Packers plus-2 1/2 at Panthers: Packers by 7

Rodgers returns to try and keep the Packers in the playoff picture. He hasn’t played in nine weeks. He should be rusty. He should lose on the road to a better team. But, c’mon, you know he’s not going away that quietly. Especially with the Vikings coming to Lambeau next week.

Last week straight up; versus spread: 8-8; 6-10

Year to date: 132-74; 98-109

Upset specials: 3-11

Record picking Vikings games: 8-5

Six Vikings, including Rhodes, Reiff and Rudolph, sidelined at practice

The Vikings injury report on Wednesday looked more like one typical of the NFL in December.

Six players, including cornerback Xavier Rhodes, left tackle Riley Reiff and tight end Kyle Rudolph, were sidelined during the Vikings’ first practice before Sunday’s game against the Bengals.

Rhodes is dealing with a hip injury that kept him from one snap in Sunday’s loss in Carolina. Rudolph missed 19 snaps due to the injured ankle suffered against the Panthers. Reiff exited the game due to the ankle injury that had him in a walking boot later that day. He was out of the boot Wednesday, but unable to practice.

Also not practicing were cornerback Mackensie Alexander (ribs), linebacker Emmanuel Lamur (foot) and tight end Blake Bell (shoulder).

The good news for Vikings fans is right tackle Mike Remmers (low back) practiced for the first time since injuring his back Nov. 29 at Winter Park. He was limited on Wednesday. Remmers could return Sunday after missing the last five games due to brain and back injuries.

Remmers’ potential return would come at a good time with Reiff nursing an ankle injury. Rashod Hill filled in for Reiff during practice.

Center Pat Elflein, who was held out in Carolina, was limited again during Wednesday’s practice with a left shoulder injury.

Six other Vikings were limited Wednesday: Adam Thielen (knee), Linval Joseph (knee), Jerick McKinnon (shoulder), David Morgan (concussion), Jeremiah Sirles (knee) and Shamar Stephen (shoulder).

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