The Minnesota Vikings are the biggest underdog of the wild card weekend and with good reason. They looked very unimpressive down the stretch, limping to the finish line with home losses against Green Bay and Chicago. Overall, they lost 3 of their last 5 games straight up and have failed to cover in 4 of their last 6 against the spread. They now much travel South to take on a New Orleans Saints team that looks downright lethal.
The Saints come into this game at 13-3 SU/11-5 against the spread. It’s not usual that a team with such a goods record ends up playing on wild card weekend but they lost their tiebreakers to the Packers and Niners so here they are. In a strange way, it actually works in their favor. A first round bye is supposed to be a ‘reward’ for a strong performance during the regular season but there’s much to be said for momentum in sports. From that perspective, the Saints will benefit from *not* having a bye week.
New Orleans is playing their best football of the year at precisely the right time of year. They’ve won 6 of their last 7 SU and 5 of their last 7 against the spread. Their offense has looked downright unstoppable and is averaging 36.2 PPG over their last 7 games. In their last four games, they’ve averaged a scorching 40 PPG. The Saints finished the regular season ranked #3 in the league in scoring off but they’ve raised their game mightily in the second half of the year.
The Vikings are a mediocre road team at best though they should at least be comfortable playing in a dome. This year, the Vikings are just 4-4 SU/ATS away from the Twin Cities. Over the past three years, they’re 12-11 SU/11-12 ATS. In all fairness, the Saints haven’t been a great pointspread play at home in recent years though they’ve been tough to beat SU. New Orleans is 21-6 SU over the past three years though just 13-14 against the spread.
The quarterback battle is a mismatch as Drew Brees has looked downright insane during the past four games throwing 15 touchdowns with no interceptions. Kirk Cousins might be a convenient scapegoat for deeper issues within the Vikings roster but there’s no disputing that he’s played poorly in recent weeks. The Vikings could use some big contributions from running back Dalvin Cook and he will return from injury this week. He says he’s at full strength but that remains to be seen.
Underdogs of 7+ points are just 16-16 in wild card games and given the offensive depth and potency of the Saints, the lack of the same of the Vikings and the disparate recent form of the two principals in today’s game that record will likely be 16-17 at the end of this one. The Vikings anemic offense is the only thing keeping us off of the ‘Over’ in this matchup.