Ever since they were the victims of one of the luckiest plays in NFL playoff history, the New Orleans Saints have been looking forward to their rematch this week against the Minnesota Vikings. Kickoff is scheduled for 8:20 EST on Sunday, October 28, at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. The game will be broadcast nationally on NBC’s Sunday Night Football.
Based on the Week 8 NFL odds, the Vikings began the week favored by 2.5 points. However, heavy betting in favor of the Saints has made this game a straight-up PK. The over/under for the game is set at 53 points.
The Saints are breathing a sigh of relief after beating the Ravens 24-23 last week via a missed extra point by Baltimore kicker Justin Tucker in the closing seconds. That game pushed the team’s current winning streak to five games. Ever since New Orleans was stunned by the Buccaneers in Week 1, they’ve done nothing but win. Even with the Rams being undefeated, some view the Saints as the leading favorites to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl.
Of course, the Saints still have a lot of work ahead of them. They are just a game ahead of the Panthers in what is still an ultra-competitive NFC South division. New Orleans is also in the middle of a five-game stretch against teams that currently have a winning record. In fact, the Saints have a showdown with the undefeated Rams next week, so they could be tempted to look ahead, even with this game circled on their calendar for so long.
As for the Vikings, they have come out of a rough patch in September and have now won three games in a row. To be fair, two of those wins have come against the lowly Cardinals and the enigmatic Jets. Nevertheless, that winning streak has taken the Vikings to 4-2-1 on the season and the top spot in the NFC North standings.
Moreover, after enduring a stretch of three of four games on the road, Minnesota will be home for three of their next four games. After this week’s game against the Saints, the Vikings will play their next three games against division rivals, so if they can stay hot, Minnesota will have a chance to create a cushion at the top of the division.
As the PK implies, you can just flip a coin when picking this game. The coin in my head is choosing to side with the Saints, even on the road. New Orleans has put together a more impressive winning streak than the Vikings, and after the Minnesota Miracle last January, it only seems appropriate for the Saints to get some semblance of revenge.
More importantly, I have trouble believing the Vikings will be able to slow down Drew Brees and the New Orleans offense. Minnesota’s defense carried them last season, but that’s not been the case this year. Giving up 17 points apiece to the Cardinals and Jets the past two weeks isn’t enough to convince me that the Vikings have turned a corner on that side of the ball. Remember, they were lit up for 38 points against the Rams a few weeks ago. I can see the Saints doing something similar this week.
The most amazing thing about what Brees and the Saints are doing this year is that the 39-year old quarterback still hasn’t thrown an interception. Equally important is the fact that he’s been sacked just nine times in six games. If the Vikings struggle to get pressure on Brees and they can’t force turnovers, they’re going to have a hard time keeping the Saints out of the end zone.
To be fair, it’s hard to rule out the Vikings being able to keep up with the Saints in a shootout. Kirk Cousins may not be able to match Brees statistically, but he’s having a good year after signing a big contract to come to Minnesota. More importantly, he may have the most dangerous receiving tandem in the NFL with Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs. Running back Latavius Murray is also doing a good job of filling in for the injured Dalvin Cook.
However, I actually think the New Orleans defense may be able to slow down the Vikings just enough to pull out the road win. For starters, the Saints have the best rush defense in the league. Part of that is due to the Saints often playing from ahead and teams abandoning the run. But giving up just 3.1 yards per carry on the ground is no joke no matter the circumstances. The Saints also traded for Eli Apple this week, giving their secondary some much-needed help against the tandem of Thielen and Diggs.
Again, it’s not wrong to just flip a coin to pick the winner of this game. However, after blowing out the Redskins and surviving the Ravens in their last two games, it’s hard to go against the Saints. I like New Orleans to squeak out their sixth win in a row Sunday night against the Vikings.