The NFL playoffs open with Wild Card Weekend games this Saturday and Sunday. TheLines will provide daily betting breakdowns and analysis for every game throughout the playoffs. We’ll look at the odds and see why they’re moving a certain way, along with breaking down the matchup and providing the best sportsbook promotions.
In the NFC, sixth-seeded Minnesota Vikings will travel to face the third-seeded New Orleans Saints in a Wild Card matchup. The Saints opened as 6.5-point favorites on DraftKings Sportsbook and are now listed as 8-point favorites.
These teams have met twice in the playoffs this decade. New Orleans beat the Vikings, 31-28, in the 2010 NFC Championship and took a heartbreaking 29-24 loss at Minnesota in the 2017 Divisional Round when Stefon Diggs miraculously caught a 61-yard TD as time expired.
New Orleans is 4-1 in regular season matchups against Minnesota this decade, including a 30-20 road win last season.
Odds and analysis
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The Saints opened as 6.5-point favorites and the line quickly moved up to -8 with action quickly coming in on New Orleans. The number dropped to 7.5 as of Thursday and could close on the key number of 7 by kickoff.
The point total opened at 46.5 at DraftKings Sportsbook on Sunday but that quickly climbed to 48 as of Monday afternoon and then 48.5 on Tuesday. It’s still on the move (up to 50 on Sunday morning).
Saints vs. Vikings game matchup
This is the biggest mismatch of Wild Card Weekend and one of the easier games to call in recent postseason history. The Saints are on fire with three straight wins by an average of 23 PPG and the Vikings have dropped three of their last five while backing into the playoffs. New Orleans has a Top 10 defense, the third-ranked scoring offense (28.6 PPG), and a Hall of Fame QB throwing to arguably the best receiver in the game, Michael Thomas.
The Saints also have extra motivation to finally reach the Super Bowl after getting robbed in the NFC Championship game by a no-call, and getting stunned by the Diggs miracle in 2017, so the Vikings should become the object of their frustration.
New Orleans is 21-6 at home since the start of the 2017 season and has won three straight Wild Card games dating back to 2012. The Saints defensive line ranks seventh in adjusted sack rate (8.1%) and fifth against power run plays according to Football Outsiders.
Minnesota has the third-highest run-play percentage (49.07%) this year, but struggled to gain yards on the ground as soon as Dalvin Cook (shoulder) got injured. The Vikings averaged just 3.5 YPC over five contests prior to their meaningless Week 17 game against the Bears. They averaged 4.7 YPC on the road this year, but went 4-4 in road games.
Basically, whenever Kirk Cousins is consistently pressured, he struggles. Expect Saints DC Dennis Allen to dial up creative blitzes and use the intense crowd noise at the Superdome to move Cousins off his spots and wreak havoc on Minnesota’s offense.
While the Vikings have plenty of talent on defense, Drew Brees has shredded opponents at the Superdome. He’s sporting a 17:3 TD:INT ratio with a 119.7 passer rating and completing 77.5% of his passes at home, and was last seen setting an NFL record by completing 29 of 30 passes against the Colts. Brees averages a whopping 332.8 passing YPG at home compared to just 196.4 YPG on the road.
Minnesota’s defense was far more vulnerable on the road, allowing 7.2 yards per attempt with a 15:7 TD:INT ratio and 93.9 passer rating. During the second half, the Vikings yielded 8.2 YPC at Kansas City, 5.1 YPC at Seattle, and 5.8 YPC in a decisive home loss to Green Bay.
Xavier Rhodes has not been the same type of shutdown force this year and that means Minnesota will have to double Thomas, but Brees and Sean Payton will make them pay elsewhere. Alvin Kamara and Taysom Hill compose the most versatile backfield out there and both athletes should cause fits for the Vikings fast, but relatively small, defense.
Betting breakdown: by the numbers
The Saints were a league-best 11-5 against the spread (ATS) this season and 7-4 ATS when listed as favorites. They were just 4-4 ATS at home, but went 8-4 ATS when facing NFC foes.
Minnesota went 4-4 ATS on the road and 2-2 as an underdog. The Vikings were 5-0 ATS when coming off a loss and 2-3 ATS with a rest advantage.
The Vikings took their first four losses on the road before ending the season with consecutive home losses. Those road defeats came by an average of 6.3 PPG and the Saints last four home wins came by an average of 14.8 PPG. New Orleans has covered in three straight games, eclipsing the spread by an average of 14.6 PPG.
Saints vs. Vikings predictions
Check out this article at PlayPicks for betting picks and predictions for Saints and Vikings, including our thoughts on the spread, moneyline, total, and props for the game.