Christmas Day Football as the 6-8 Vikings travel to Louisiana to take on the 10-4 Saints, who will secure their fourth Division title in a row with a win.
New Orleans were able to run out Drew Brees last week for the first time since week ten, and although he looked rusty he still managed to throw for three TD’s in a losing effort against the Chiefs. The Saints have lost back to back games for the second time this season and will have to try and avoid making it a three game skid without their number one Wide Receiver as Michael Thomas was placed on short term IR, and his absence is sure to mean more involvement of Alvin Kamara, the pass catching back has been impressive all season, especially when taking the field without Thomas as he becomes the teams primary receiver for Brees’ favoured underneath routes. The Saints run defense gave up more than expected on the ground against the Chiefs on Sunday but they’re a top five unit against the run and the Chiefs success on the ground had more to do with the Saints defensive game plan, and I expect to see that top tier unit put to work today as the Vikings offense relies primarily on Dalvin Cook running the ball with success.
The Vikings lost what was likely their playoff decider last week as they fell to their divisional rival Bears, and whilst their it the slimmest of chances they can still make the post season, it is very unlikely. Minnesota’s defense has been poor all season, and although a small decline was expected after losing a lot of secondary talent, I don’t think anyone expected as drastic a fall off as we’ve seen. Mike Zimmer has always had his defense ready to go when playing a Sean Payton coached offense but I expect them to struggle a little here. The Vikings offense, as we’ve said, is very Dalvin Cook dependent and for most of the season that’s been fine as he’s proved to be one of the Backs in the league, but the offense has also seen the emergence of rookie, Justin Jefferson, who has filled the Stefon Diggs sized hole in this offense perfectly, and is in firm contention for OROY (Offensive Rookie of the Year) honours at the end of the season.
I’m taking the Saints here, they’re the home side and with Drew Brees inside the dome he’s a much better passer of the football, but ultimately I put this game down to who’s defense can step up and stop the talented Running Backs on either side, and I have a lot more faith in the Saints D than I do the Vikings.
As for my best bet we like something we put together for you, Drew Brees has thrown the ball 30 or more times in eight of his ten games this season (with one of those ‘under’ games being where he was carted off injured after only 20 snaps) whilst Kirk Cousins has thrown 30 or more times in each of his last six games, and in eight of his last ten games. Vikings Tight End, Irv Smith, has seen a production upturn in recent weeks due to the injury of fellow TE, Kyle Rudolph, and has two or more receptions in each of his last four games and in six of his last seven games, these three to keep up their current tendencies pays 11/8 with SkyBet. We also like the home team to score between 26-28 points at a very tempting 5/1, in three of Drew Brees last four victories leading the Saints they’ve scored in that range whilst in four of the Vikings last five games have they given up scores un that range to their opponents. With Mike Zimmer’s familiarity with the Saints offense I can’t take them to completely blow out the Vikings and at the price I think it’s worth a little festive punt.
PREDICTION: SAINTS 28 – 20 VIKINGS
BEST BET: Drew Brees & Kirk Cousins 30+ Passing Attempts & Irv Smith 2+ Receptions – 11/8 with SkyBet (RequestABet up to 5/1) 1 point bet.
NEXT BEST: SAINTS to score between 26-28 points – 5/1 with SkyBet. 0.5 point bet.