New Orleans (12-5) at Minnesota (13-3)
When: Sunday, January 14th 2018
Where: U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN
Time: 4:40 ET | TV: FOX
Opening Odds: Minnesota -4.5/43.5
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Out of all four weekend playoff matchups, the game between the Minnesota Vikings and New Orleans Saints could be the most exciting to watch. The Saints have a potent offense going up against a stout Minnesota defense, but New Orleans’ defense and the Vikings’ offense are also underrated this season. The Vikings are two wins away from being the first team to host a Super Bowl, as this year’s big game is at U.S. Bank Stadium. Minnesota quarterback Case Keenum watched from the bench as Sam Bradford earned NFC Offensive Player of the Week honors after throwing for 346 yards and three touchdowns in the 29-19 win over the Saints back in Week 1 before the journeyman quarterback was forced to take over for the injured Bradford. Keenum went on to have a sensational season, recording career highs in completions (325), attempts (481), yards (3,547), touchdowns (22) and passer rating (98.3) while posting an 11-3 mark as a starter. New Orleans’ quarterback Drew Brees is coming off one of this best performances of the season last weekend by throwing for 376 yards and two touchdowns as the Saints defeated the Carolina Panthers for the third time this season with a 31-26 win in the Wild Card game. Minnesota owns a 13-3 all-time mark at home versus New Orleans.
The New Orleans offense also looks a bit different from the season opener as former Vikings great Adrian Peterson was traded to Arizona in favor of the two-pronged attack of Mark Ingram and rookie Alvin Kamara. The 1-2 punch became the first running back duo in league history to gain more than 1,500 yards from scrimmage and helped New Orleans lead the NFL with 4.7 yards per carry and 23 rushing touchdowns. Kamara finished second behind Pittsburgh’s Le’Veon Bell among running backs in catches with 81 during the regular season, but had just one against the Panthers last weekend. Wide receiver Michael Thomas hauled in eight of nine targets for 131 yards in his playoff debut versus Carolina. New Orleans ranks in the middle of the pack in overall defense, but has allowed 57 points over their last two games.
The change at quarterback isn’t Minnesota’s only notable change from the season opener as Latavius Murray has taken over in the backfield after rookie Dalvin Cook saw his season end due to an ACL injury. Murray recorded eight touchdowns in his last 10 games of the season while fellow running back Jerick McKinnon caught 43 of his 51 receptions over the last 12 weeks. Wideout Stefon Diggs found the end zone on two occasions in the first meeting with the Saints and scored a touchdown in each of the last three games of the regular season. The Vikings defense ranks No. 1 overall (275.9), No. 1 in points (15.8) and second in both rush and pass defense. You can’t get much better than that.
It’s a good thing this game is indoors or the Saints’ offense might not be able to generate much against this Minnesota defense. I believe the Vikings offense will come out a little nervous and rusty, while Brees and the running back duo are capable of beating the best defenses. It might not be pretty, but the Saints will find a way to keep this close.
Pick: Saints +5
- Saints are 8-1 ATS in their last 9 road games vs. a team with a winning home record.
- Saints are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games in January.
- Saints are 13-5 ATS in their last 18 road games.
- Saints are 42-20-1 ATS vs. a team with a winning record.
- Saints are 2-5 ATS in their last 7 vs. NFC.
- Saints are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games following a straight up win.
- Saints are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games after allowing more than 350 total yards in their previous game.
- Saints are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games overall.
- Vikings are 11-1 ATS in their last 12 home games vs. a team with a winning road record.
- Vikings are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games following a ATS loss.
- Vikings are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 playoff home games.
- Vikings are 4-1 ATS vs. a team with a winning record.
- Vikings are 6-2 ATS in their last 8 vs. NFC.
- Vikings are 19-7 ATS in their last 26 games after allowing less than 90 yards rushing in their previous game.
- Vikings are 24-9 ATS in their last 33 games following a straight up win.
- Vikings are 8-3 ATS in their last 11 games after allowing less than 250 total yards in their previous game.
- Vikings are 42-17 ATS in their last 59 games overall.
- Vikings are 9-4 ATS in their last 13 games after allowing less than 15 points in their previous game.
- Vikings are 35-16 ATS in their last 51 games on fieldturf.
- Vikings are 34-16-1 ATS in their last 51 home games.
- Over is 6-0 in Saints last 6 games after accumulating less than 90 yards rushing in their previous game.
- Under is 5-1 in Saints last 6 games after scoring more than 30 points in their previous game.
- Over is 13-3 in Saints last 16 games after accumulating more than 350 total yards in their previous game.
- Over is 8-2 in Saints last 10 games after allowing more than 250 yards passing in their previous game.
- Over is 4-1 in Saints last 5 games on fieldturf.
- Over is 7-2 in Saints last 9 games following a ATS loss.
- Over is 3-1-1 in Saints last 5 Divisional Playoffs games.
- Over is 9-3-1 in Saints last 13 playoff games.
- Under is 5-2 in Saints last 7 games after accumulating more than 250 yards passing in their previous game.
- Over is 11-5 in Saints last 16 games in January.
- Under is 4-0-1 in Vikings last 5 playoff home games.
- Under is 7-1-1 in Vikings last 9 playoff games.
- Under is 6-1 in Vikings last 7 home games vs. a team with a winning road record.
- Under is 5-1 in Vikings last 6 games in January.
- Under is 5-1 in Vikings last 6 home games.
- Under is 4-1 in Vikings last 5 games overall.
- Under is 20-6 in Vikings last 26 vs. a team with a winning record.
- Under is 12-5 in Vikings last 17 games after allowing less than 90 yards rushing in their previous game.
- Under is 7-3 in Vikings last 10 vs. NFC.
- Under is 13-6 in Vikings last 19 games following a straight up win.
- Under is 13-6 in Vikings last 19 games following a ATS loss.
- Over is 5-0-1 in the last 6 meetings in Minnesota.
- Favorite is 4-0 ATS in their last 4 meetings.
- Over is 7-2 in the last 9 meetings.