Saints at Vikings: 2018 NFL Playoffs Odds, Prediction
The Minnesota Vikings have a 2-1 edge in the playoffs over the New Orleans Saints. However, the Saints won the last game in the series (the 2010 NFC Championship game) 31-28. That game is famously remembered as the Bounty Gate game. The Saints had won the last four games in this series before their Week 1 loss this season.
New Orleans Saints
The Saints went a little old school in their Wild Card victory over the Carolina Panthers. With the Panthers smothering the Saints rushing attack, Drew Brees used his arm to pick apart the Panthers secondary for 376 yards and two touchdowns. Brees is the most experienced quarterback left in the NFC side of the playoffs, something that should not be overlooked.
To beat the Vikings, the Saints will need to use their run game more effectively. Kamara and Ingram need to touch the ball earlier to set up play action and keep the Vikings guessing. The two backs, who combined for over 3000 yards from season this scrimmage, had only 68 yards total in last weekend’s win. The Saints will employ more balance on Sunday.
The Saints defence is competent. They held the Panthers offence in check for most drives, and they managed to ht Cam Newton enough to make him uncomfortable in the pocket. Their defence is playing well enough to make the Saints a Super Bowl contender.
The defence for the Vikings was expected to be good. However, the offence is the real surprise for the team this season. Through the superb coaching of Mike Zimmer, the Minnesota Vikings took their backup quarterback and running backs to a 13-3 record. The Vikings started the season with Sam Bradford at quarterback. But Bradford, being Bradford, was injured after his Week 1 win over the Saints and played about a half game more before going on the IR for the rest of the season.
The Vikings turned to Case Keenum at quarterback. Keenum, who was never more than a below-average starter for the Rams and Texans, turned into a fringe MVP candidate this season. Keenum finished the year averaged 243 yards passing per start with a 22-7 TD-INT ratio. The most critical part of Keenum season was he was not the reason the Vikings lost games.
As great as Keenum played and the emergence of Adam Thielen as a premier wide receiver, the real strength of the Viking is their defence. The Vikings ranked first in many defensive categories, including yards allowed, points allowed and passing touchdowns allowed. The Vikings defence’s only weakness was a lack of takeaways.
Game Preview And Predictions
While many will look to the Vikings-Saints game in Week 1 for predictions for this game, so much has changed since then that looking at that game is fringing on irrelevant. Rookie running back, Alvin Kamara, barely saw the field in Week 1. Also, the Vikings started Sam Bradford at quarterback and Dalvin Cook at running back. Kamara is now a contender for “Offensive Rookie of the Year,” while Sam Bradford and Dalvin Cook are currently on the IR.
This game is tough to predict. The Saints have the advantage on offence, while the Vikings are better on defence. Both teams are well-coached and built for playoff football. The Vikings were 7-1 at home, while the Saints were just 4-4 outside of New Orleans. A few key matchups will likely determine which team goes onto the NFC Championship game.
The first matchup is the Vikings secondary against the Saints passing offence. The Vikings have a much better secondary than the Carolina Panthers. Drew Brees will have a much more difficult time passing to Michael Thomas when All-Pro cornerback Xavier Rhodes covers him. The Saints will need big games from their other receivers.
A potential gamechanger in this matchup is Vikings’ tight end, Kyle Rudolph. The Saints allowed over 100 yards to Greg Olsen this week. The Saints were good against the tight end this season allowing the fewest receiving yards to the position. However, the Saints defence saw the second fewest passes to the tight end this season. When they played teams with good tight ends, like Greg Olsen last weekend or the Patriots in Week 2, they fared poorly. Although Rudolph is not as good as Rob Gronkowski or Olsen, he is definitely in the upper third of the league’s tight ends.
The Vikings home field advantage is a major factor in this game. They were arguably the best home team in the NFL this season, with their one loss coming earlier in the season to Detroit. The Vikings have enough talent all-around to beat the Saints, even if Brees is an outstanding dome quarterback. Avoid the 5.0 point spread and take the Vikings on the moneyline.
Including the playoffs, the Saints are 10-7 for the over. The Vikings and their vaunted defence, finished the year 7-9 in favour of the under. The first meeting between these two teams just hit the 47.5 over, after the Saints scored a late, meaningless touchdown. The playoffs are not the time of year to pad stat and get garbage time touchdowns.
The over/under on this game is in a tricky spot. The Saints put up 31 points last week but averaged only 21 points over their previous three road games. For the season they averaged the fifth most road points with 25.88 per game. However, the Saints scored less than their average in five of their eight road games. The Vikings home offence averaged 24.75 points per game, 12th in the NFL.
The Vikings were far and away the best home defence in the NFL. The Vikings allowed 12.50 points per game at home. The 19 points they allowed to the Saints in Week 1 was a season-high at home. They ranked first in opponent time on the field, at 26:45. Both teams will run the ball to control to control tempo and limit possessions. Bet the under or consider an alternative line of 48.5-49.5.
Category : SportsMore articles...