Minnesota (10-6) is limping into the playoffs on a two-game losing streak. The Vikings came up short two weeks ago against the Packers on Monday Night Football which sealed the division for Green Bay. Minnesota then rested most of its key starters in last Sunday’s loss to the Bears. The Vikings’ last trip to the playoffs was in 2017 when they beat the Saints on an incredible last-second play now dubbed the Minneapolis Miracle. The Vikings are 5-5 ATS against teams with a winning record this season.
New Orleans (13-3) is streaking into the postseason having won six of seven down the stretch, with the only loss being the 48-46 thriller against the 49ers. Michael Thomas has fully established himself as the best wide receiver in the league. Thomas led the NFL in receptions (149) and receiving yards (1,725) and is tied for fourth with nine touchdown grabs. The Saints are 6-3 ATS against teams with a winning record this season. Drew Brees leads the NFL with a 74.8 completion percentage.
ESPN’s FPI gives New Orleans a 63.2% chance of winning this game. We break down the line and offer our best bets and analysis for Sunday’s NFC Wild Card matchup between the Vikings and Saints.
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Vikings vs. Saints Game Details
Date: Sunday, January 5
Time: 1:00 pm
Location: Mercedez-Benz Superdome (New Orleans, Louisiana)
Spread: Saints -8
This line opened at Saints -7 and was immediately bet up to Saints -8 in the early market as the majority of the bets and money are coming in on New Orleans. This line is correlated with the action and is moving with the market.
- Vikings are 10-6 SU and 9-7 ATS this season
- Saints are 13-3 SU and 11-5 ATS this season
- Over is 9-7 in Vikings games this season
- Over is 9-7 in Saints games this season
Analysis & Picks
These are two very evenly matched teams, but the difference comes down to one match. Kirk Cousins vs. Drew Brees. I don’t trust Cousins to rise to the occasion in what will be a hostile environment at the Superdome. Getting Dalvin Cook back from injury will help for Minnesota. But just two weeks removed from a shoulder and chest injury, I’m unsure how healthy and effective Cook will be in his first career playoff game. While the Vikings defense has had a strong season, there is one stat that concerns me for them in this game. Minnesota is near the bottom of the league in opponent completion percentage, while Drew Brees leads the league completing 74.3% of his passes. What this tells me is that Brees should be able to dink and dunk the Vikings to death, then dial up the deep ball to Thomas when the defense starts to sneak in. It’s a nightmare scenario for a Vikings defense that had similar problems in their losses to the Packers, Chiefs, and Seahawks earlier this season. New Orleans should have no issues moving the ball in this game, and I don’t think Cousins can keep up. Throw in the “Minnesota Miracle” revenge factor and this feels like a runaway by the bayou.
PICK: Saints -7.5
Follow Jared Smith on Twitter: @jaredleesmith