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Vikings To Edge Out Saints In NFC Battle

October 27, 2018

The New Orleans Saints return to the scene of the crime at US Bank Stadium where the Minnesota Miracle denied them a berth in the NFC Championship Game last season.

The Minnesota Vikings were down and seemingly out of the game with 10 seconds remaining in their NFC Divisional Round clash. Case Keenum had his team on the 39-yard line and out of range for a Hail Mary to the endzone. The quarterback threw a completion down the right sideline towards Stefon Diggs, who made the catch between two Saints defenders.

New Orleans defensive back Marcus Williams missed the tackle on the wideout, allowing him to run the extra 40 yards to the endzone to send the Vikings into the Championship Game with a stunning walk-off win.

The Vikings went on to be hammered by the Philadelphia Eagles in the title game, missing out on a place in the Super Bowl. However, the victory remains one of the most stunning in NFL post-season history and revenge will be firmly on the minds of the Saints in the contest.

Minnesota have started to find their form after a stuttering start to the term. Mike Zimmer’s men have won their last three matches to take control of the NFC North. Another win would put them back in the race for a first-round bye, handing them a crucial advantage over the Saints.

New Orleans are one of the few teams that have been able to match the progress of the Los Angeles Rams. A win would send them into their next outing with the Rams with momentum and the opportunity to perhaps take possession of top spot in the NFC.

Will Cousins outduel Brees?

Minnesota Vikings

After struggling to find their best form in the opening month of the season, Minnesota have started to hit their stride by reeling three wins on the bounce. Alarm bells were ringing when the club fell to a humiliating defeat at the hands of the Buffalo Bills on home soil. Zimmer’s men were then outduelled on the road by the Rams in a thrilling contest.

A recovery win over the Eagles in a revenge mission from their defeat in the NFC Championship Game has sparked a resurgence, with the club adding to their triumph with further victories over the Arizona Cardinals and the New York Jets. A win over the Saints would put Minnesota back in with an opportunity of earning a bye in the playoffs, although there’s a long way to go before the end of the campaign.

The biggest difference between the Vikings’ team that played the Saints in the Divisional Round to this year’s outfit is at the quarterback position. Kirk Cousins has started to find his rhythm, producing the level of play expected by Minnesota when they spent big to secure his signature in the off-season. The 30-year-old is more than capable of going score-for-score with the best quarterbacks in the NFL, but just needs to improve his consistency.

Cousins has had great support from the outstanding Adam Thielen, who has recorded over 100 receiving yards in every match this term – equaling the longest streak to start an NFL season. He will break the record with another 100-yard game against the Saints. Thielen along with Diggs, Kyle Rudolph, Aldrick Robinson and Laquon Treadwell hand the Vikings one of the most fearsome offenses in the league.

Minnesota have been handed a huge boost by Everson Griffen, who has returned to the team after missing the last six weeks to receive treatment for his mental health. At the peak of his powers, Griffen is one of the best pass-rushers in the NFL and will ease the strain on Danielle Hunter. The Vikings will need their defense to return to its dominant form from last season to contain Drew Brees and the Saints’ offense.

New Orleans Saints

The Saints were devastated by their defeat in the Divisional Round – none more so than Williams who bore the brunt of the backlash for failing to tackle Diggs. However, Sean Payton’s men have bounced back well from the incident and are seemingly on track to return to the playoffs. After a stunning loss on the opening day of the season at the hands of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New Orleans have won their last five matches on the bounce.

Brees has been the architect of their success, putting points on the board with ease in three of the victories. The Saints had to work hard for their victory on the road against the Baltimore Ravens last time out. Although the defense allowed Joe Flacco to score a late touchdown, fate was on the side of Payton’s men as Justin Tucker missed the first extra-point kick of his career to hand New Orleans a one-point triumph.

Brees has been outstanding this term, throwing 13 touchdowns without committing a single interception. He has been his deadly accurate self, completing 77% of his passes downfield, connecting with Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara with ease. At the age of 39, the quarterback is on course for the best season of his career. The performances of Kamara and Thomas have been equally important for New Orleans. Outside of the two elite players, there’s not a lot of talent at the disposal of the Saints, it’s testament to the brilliance of Brees and Payton that they’ve managed to thrive with only two option available to test opposing defenses.

New Orleans’ defense was good enough last week even though they gave up a late drive to Flacco and company. Cameron Jordan remains the vital cog in the unit, notching five sacks on the season. Marshon Lattimore is an elite cornerback in the secondary, while Williams has overcome his mistake to round into a solid player. The Saints will be boosted by the presence of Eli Apple to add to their cornerback depth following his arrival from the New York Giants in a trade. It will be all hands to the pump against the Vikings’ receiving corps.

Betting Options

This will be a close contest as there is little between the teams. It would be no surprise to see the two sides meet once again in the playoffs in January. The Vikings had to produce a miraculous play to beat New Orleans last time out, but they’re a stronger team on offense this time around.

Given they’re on home soil, back the Vikings to secure the win at odds of +105  with TopBet. For value take Minnesota on the -3.5 spread at 7/5  with 888Sport. The over/under line for total points has been set at 52.5, therefore take the over at odds of -110  with TopBet.

Diggs will be keen to find the endzone again to replicate the Minnesota Miracle. Back him to score a touchdown anytime at odds of 11/10 . Mark Ingram’s return from suspension has been a welcome one for the Saints. Take him at odds of 6/5  with 888Sport to find the endzone anytime in the game.

The duel between Brees and Cousins will define the game. Back Brees to record over 295.5 passing yards as he will be required to up the scoring rate with passes downfield at odds of 17/20 , while back Cousins with the same yards and the same price at 888Sport.

Brees has thrown for five touchdowns in his last two matches, while Cousins has found the endzone three times. Take the Vikings quarterback to throw three strikes at odds of 13/10  and Brees to throw more than 1.5 at 1/2  with 888Sport.

Tips Summary

Minnesota Vikings To Beat New Orleans Saints
Sunday 28th October 2018 20:20 ET (Monday 29th October 2018 00:20 GMT)
Odds: +105

Minnesota Vikings -3.5 Spread
Sunday 28th October 2018 20:20 ET (Monday 29th October 2018 00:20 GMT)
Odds: 7/5

Over 52.5 Points To Be Scored
Sunday 28th October 2018 20:20 ET (Monday 29th October 2018 00:20 GMT)
Odds: -110

Stefon Diggs To Score Touchdown Anytime
Sunday 28th October 2018 20:20 ET (Monday 29th October 2018 00:20 GMT)
Odds: 11/10

Mark Ingram To Score Touchdown Anytime
Sunday 28th October 2018 20:20 ET (Monday 29th October 2018 00:20 GMT)
Odds: 6/5

Drew Brees To Throw Over 295.5 Passing Yards
Sunday 28th October 2018 20:20 ET (Monday 29th October 2018 00:20 GMT)
Odds: 17/20

Kirk Cousins To Throw Over 295.5 Passing Yards
Sunday 28th October 2018 20:20 ET (Monday 29th October 2018 00:20 GMT)
Odds: 17/20

Drew Brees To Throw Over 1.5 Touchdowns
Sunday 28th October 2018 20:20 ET (Monday 29th October 2018 00:20 GMT)
Odds: 1/2

Kirk Cousins To Throw Over 2.5 Touchdowns
Sunday 28th October 2018 20:20 ET (Monday 29th October 2018 00:20 GMT)
Odds: 13/10

  • Drew Brees
  • Kirk Cousins
  • Minnesota Vikings
  • New Orleans Saints
  • NFL

    About the author

    Simon Sinclair
    Simon Sinclair

    Sports Writer

    Simon is a freelance sports writer from the UK. He passionately writes about all kinds of sports, sharing his predictions on everything from the latest cricket matches and golf tournaments to major horse racing events and popular American sports.