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Minnesota Vikings vs. New Orleans Saints Point Spread - Pick

Minnesota Vikings (10-6 SU, 9-7 ATS) vs. New Orleans Saints (13-3 SU, 11-5 ATS)
NFC Wild Card Playoffs
Date/Time: Sunday, January 5, 2020 at 1:05PM EST
Where: Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana
TV: Fox

By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

Point Spread: MIN +8/NO -8
Over/Under Total: 48

The Minnesota Vikings come to the Superdome to take on the New Orleans Saints in the Wild Card round of the NFC playoffs on Sunday. It's an all-or-nothing spot between two NFC teams that saw a lot of success this season, especially the Saints. While having to play on wild card weekend is a tough spot for a 13-win team, the Saints won six of their last seven games, including a dominant 42-10 win over the Panthers on Sunday. The Vikings had nothing to gain on Sunday, thus losing to the Bears, 21-19, but still hit a lot of high notes this season, despite an uneven end to the regular season. Can they spring the upset or will they be easy pickings for the Saints? Most will remember the Minneapolis Miracle two seasons ago, when the Vikings snatched victory from the jaws of defeat in an unforgettable moment. A lot has changed, but a lot of guys remain from both sidelines who remember that.

The Vikings are very dangerous and their fortunes depend on which version shows up. Will it be the so-so team that opened the season 2-2 and dropped its last two games, while going 1-4 against teams that are also in the playoffs? Or will we see the solid all-around team that won eight of ten games before going into this late-season funk? At their best, the offense is vital, as Kirk Cousins makes few mistakes and a well-balanced offense does quite well. At their worst, we see issues on both sides of the ball.

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Kirk Cousins had a much better season, though it wasn't all great. But he strung together enough good performances to make the offense a lot better this season. Not ending the season in best form is a little concerning, as are the injuries to some key members of their offense, as Dalvin Cook and Adam Thielen have missed a lot of action coming down the stretch run of the season. They took some time off and should be ready to go, but having key pieces being iffy right now is not ideal to say the least. This offense is not very deep and they need Stefon Diggs, along with Thielen and Cook at near full-power or it could be curtains for this bunch.

If not, the Vikes are hoping the "D" can pick up the slack. And there is a lot of hope on this side of the ball, as they were 6th in the league in points allowed. They showed a lot of balance, being equally resistant against the pass and the run, while registering a lot of difference-making plays. On the pass-rush front, they are a handful with Danielle Hunter, Ifeadi Odenigbo and Everson Griffen combining for 29.5 sacks. And the "D" can make the big play, having secured 30 turnovers on the season, with guys like Anthony Harris and his six picks making a big difference.

The Saints overcame a lot this season to forge one of their best campaigns in years with thirteen wins. Drew Brees missed time and they held it together, even thriving, and now find themselves in a spot to do some big things. They have an efficient and well-balanced offense, one that is capable of some very high notes with some of the best weapons in the league. And while their defense can still be exploited in spots, they have been excellent against the run this season, while making a lot of difference-making plays along the way. Make no mistake, just because they are playing on wild card weekend shouldn't impact their standing as a true-blue Super Bowl contender. And based on how they left things off last season, they are team on a mission with a chip on their shoulder.

There is a lot to like about the Saints' offense. You have Drew Brees, who is still at the top of his game. He had 27 TDs and just four picks, missing five games earlier in the season. He has been sacked only 12 times working behind a good offensive line that also helps spring a good run game, led by Alvin Kamara and effective Latavius Murray. Receiver Michael Thomas led the league in receiving, setting an NFL record with 149 catches. With Jared Cook, Kamara, Murray, Ted Ginn, Jr., and others, Brees can get the ball into the hands of any number of difference-makers. Throw in X-factors like Taysom Hill and Tre'Quan Smith, you see an offense capable of a lot. Making it all the more better is that they've given away a scant 8 turnovers on the whole season.

With the Saints, no matter how well the "D" did in the regular season, it always warrants concern in a postseason setting. All told, they've been pretty good. Allowing just over 21 points a game, while being one of the top rushing defenses in the league. They do a lot of other things well and with Cameron Jordan, Marcus Davenport, Demario Davis, and Trey Hendrickson, they really get after opposing quarterbacks. And with 22 takeaways and 3 scores, they often step up with the kind of difference-making plays they need. At the same time, a New Orleans pass-defense, almost a traditional problem with the Saints, continues to plague this "D."

Minnesota faces a lot of challenges in this game. It's hard to tell what offense will show up and what the condition of guys like Cook and Thielen will be. And even if Cook is a go, how good will he be? First he has to go against a really tough run-defense and who knows how prime he will be. I think this is coming at a bad time for the Vikes, as the Saints seem poised to make a big run. Where it stops is anyone's guess, but I don't see it stopping now. I'll lay the number on the Saints.

Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the New Orleans Saints minus 8 points. Bet the Minnesota vs. New Orleans wild card playoff game for FREE by taking advantage of a massive 100% sign-up bonus on your first deposit of $100 to $500 at GTBets!

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