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Sports news with a Vegas perspective.

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NFL Thursday Minnesota Vikings at Houston Texans Preview: Start Time, Odds, Free Pick

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The final week of  the NFL Preseason continues on Thursday night as the Minnesota Vikings travel to take on the Houston TexansThe game is scheduled for a 7:00 p.m. (Eastern) start time and it will be televised live locally. Currently the odds for the game have Houston favored by 3.5 points for the game, while the total sits at 37.5. Currently 68% of the Public is on the Texans, while 55% is on the Over. Find out what side the Public is taking on all the games by clicking HERE.

Free Analysis: The Houston Texans are confident that their core group of players are good enough to make a serious run at a second straight playoff appearance. The defending AFC South champions will now get to see how strong their depth is when they wrap up their 2012 preseason slate against the Minnesota Vikings at Reliant Stadium. Texans head coach Gary Kubiak has stated that his team's starting units won't be taking the field for Thursday's tussle, with the primary goal at the moment to get rested and healthy for the Sept. 9 regular-season opener against Miami. The lengthy inactive list will include Houston's top two quarterbacks, Matt Schaub and T.J. Yates, with offseason addition John Beck set to run the offense for the entire first half and undrafted rookie Case Keenum getting the call for the final two quarters. The two reserves are battling one another to stick as the No. 3 quarterback, assuming the Texans opt to keep that many on the 53-man roster.The Vikings will also be holding out their No. 1 signal-caller for Thursday's contest, with second-year pro Christian Ponder getting a chance to watch the game from the sidelines, and head coach Leslie Frazier indicated that nearly all of his regulars would not play as well. Frazier had given thought to allowing star running back Adrian Peterson to participate in the finale to get some live carries before Minnesota's Week 1 test against Jacksonville, but opted against it. Peterson has not played at all this preseason while recovering from ACL and MCL tears in his left knee sustained in a late-season game back in December, but is on track to be ready for the Sept. 9 lid-lifter. Joe Webb will get the starting nod in Ponder's place, to be followed by onetime Texan Sage Rosenfels and former UFL player McLeod Bethel-Thompson. In Ponder's final prep for the season opener, the 2011 first-round selection went 9-of-16 for 115 yards in about 2 1/2 quarters of action during Minnesota's 12-10 loss at San Diego this past Friday. The Vikings took advantage of a depleted Houston roster to register a 28-0 victory in last year's final preseason game for both squads. Minnesota also claimed the only other previous exhibition clash between the clubs, a 17-10 decision at Reliant Stadium in 2009.

Free Pick: The last 2 times these teams met in the Preseason, just 27 and 28 points were scored and I see more of the same in this one. Neither team will have their offensive stars on the field at all and that should lead to a lot of punts. The Vikings offense struggles as it is with no Petersen in there and Joe Webb and Sage Rosefels are just not good enough to put points on the board vs a Texans defense that was 1st in the NFL last year. Even their backups are very solid and should hold down Minnesota here. The Texans offense is not very good without Foster and Schaub in there and this Minnesota defense (Starters and backups) have played pretty well in the preseason, allowing just 14.3 ppg. I don't expect this one to reach 30 points.  


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