Following a thrilling finish to the NFL’s regular season, the moment we’ve all been waiting for is finally upon us – playoff football. With both AFC games on Saturday, the NFC’s hotly-contested showdowns will unfold on Sunday afternoon. To begin with, we’ll head to the Bayou out in New Orleans where the spurned Saints will look to get revenge by facing an old foe, the Minnesota Vikings.
The Vikings can’t be happy about how their first-teamers finished the regular season. A startling loss to Green Bay cost them the division, and now sees them travelling to New Orleans to battle the impressive Saints in what promises to be a rowdy atmosphere.
Mike Zimmer has long been considered an expert game-planner, and even though the Vikings’ defense has an impressive reputation, going against the New Orleans attack will be no easy feat. This match-up should be a perfect blend of a great offense vs. defense, and whichever team advances – they have to like their chances at challenging for a Super Bowl. As you’ve done all season, read on below the posted odds for a detailed match-up breakdown, tactical analysis, and a betting recommendation for this NFC showdown.
Vikings vs. Saints Betting Odds:
Minnesota Vikings +7.5 (-110)
@ New Orleans Saints -7.5 (-110)
Over 49.5 (-115)
Under 49.5 (-105)
Vikings vs. Saints Pick:
Though Mike Zimmer has a reputation as a great defensive coach, and Minnesota’s defense has been mostly stellar over the past few seasons – their secondary heading into the playoffs remains a weak spot. It’s a source of deep concern for those within the Minnesota fan base, especially as they prepare to battle with Drew Brees and the Saints’ high-octane aerial attack. Recently they have been getting torched by teams, and it certainly does not help that former Pro Bowl corner is clearly battling something, and hasn’t been himself.
As a result, expect the Saints to really place an emphasis on the passing game with the reliable Drew Brees under centre. Since returning from his injury, Brees was dominant to end his regular season and should be able to pick up where he left off. His protection remains excellent from his beefy offensive line, and with all of the talent at his disposal, expect the veteran to be savvy enough to exploit matchups downfield. Expect Michael Thomas to turn in yet another big playoff outing.
On the other side of the ball, the Saints’ defense is currently a copy of the Vikings. They have a great front and can get pressure, but their secondary has been a source of concern lately. That said, the New Orleans’ management did make a savvy move when they went out and acquired Janoris Jenkins from New York after he was placed on waivers. With Jenkins and the talented Marshon Lattimore now patrolling their defensive backfield, it should limit Kirk Cousins just enough.
Cook is reportedly healthy and ready to return from injury for this playoff showdown, but don’t expect him to simply return and dominate. The Saints’ defensive front is elite and they’ve done a great job all season wrong at stifling opposing run games.
Although the spread is steep, and the number is currently hanging around 7.5, the play is Saints or nothing here. The Vikes have shown nothing down the stretch and are clearly limping into the post-season. New Orleans is a bad matchup for them, and though we’d prefer a clean 7 on the spread, expect the Saints to roll quite easily at home on Sunday.