Minnesota Vikings vs New Orleans Saints: Predictions and Odds (NFC Wild Card Playoffs)
The Green Men of WSN’s Picks and Best Bets Podcast predict the New Orleans Saints will win this one. My prediction for the final score is Saints 29, Vikings 25
How to Watch: Vikings vs Saints
What: Minnesota Vikings at New Orleans Saints
When: Sunday, January 5 at 1:05 pm ET
Where: Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana
How (TV): FOX
Vikings vs Saints – Point Spread
Vikings +8, Saints -8
Minnesota vs New Orleans – Game Preview
This is the first of two exciting NFC Wild Card games happening on Sunday, January 5, and it features Kirk Cousins’ 10-6 Minnesota Vikings traveling to New Orleans to take on Drew Brees’ 13-3 Saints, a rematch of the ‘Minneapolis Miracle’ game played just two postseasons ago.
The Vikings ended their season with two straight losses, though last week they sat many of their starters, while the Saints have won their last three games in a row, scoring 34, 38 and 42 points in that final trio of matchups.
Minnesota has the better run game (when healthy) but New Orleans has one of the league’s better defenses against the rush, so let’s take a quick side-by-side look at how these two NFC teams match up with one another for this Wild Card Playoff round.
Listen to this week’s Wild Card predictions and break downs including this game by The Green Men Podcast!
The 10-6-0 Minnesota Vikings
Two losses in a row to end the season doesn’t do much for your self-confidence, but the rest was essential for these eight-point underdogs and now head coach Mike Zimmer understands that few in the football world expect the Minnesota Vikings to get past this first playoff round.
Kirk Cousins still has the reputation of struggling in the big games, but he has the chance to create a few new ‘miracles’ for his Vikings while on the road in New Orleans after being a part of Zimmer’s third 10-win season in the six years he’s been, head coach.
The Vikings have been dealing with some serious injuries – specifically to running backs Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison, who were both rested for the last two weeks of the regular season and seem to be totally ready to go – but at this point in an NFL season, that’s true of every team so the ‘next man up’ mentality will have to do.
The 13-3-0 New Orleans Saints
The New Orleans Saints have every reason to be confident about this Wild Card matchup, especially given that head coach Sean Payton and quarterback Drew Brees are 6-1 in the playoffs together when playing at home.
Expect big plays from Brees to receivers Michael Thomas and Ted Ginn – they’ve done it all season – but that will be expected (and neutralized?) by Vikings defensive coordinator George Edwards, so a big game from Saints’ tight end Jared Cook would also greatly help the Saints’ chances.
It’s the defense that’s made a huge difference for the Saints this season, and the fact that they are so good against the run (ranked 4th overall) means that they have the ability to shut down one of the Vikings’ main strengths, their run game, something that could prove to be the difference in this one.
Vikings vs Saints – History
These two rivals have met 34 total times (including 4 postseason games), with Minnesota winning 22 of those times and New Orleans winning the other 12 games.
The last time these two teams played each other was in October of last season when the Saints traveled to Minnesota just to beat the Vikings by a score of 30-20.
The winner of this game will face either the San Francisco 49ers on Saturday, January 11 or the Green Bay Packers on Sunday, January 12 in the Divisional Round of the playoffs.
The loser, of course, goes home.
Questions to Answer
Who’s favored to win this Week 14 Vikings-Saints matchup?
Which team has a better offense? Defense? Special teams?
Which team’s quarterback is more likely to lead his team to victory?
We’re going to briefly compare the Vikings and the Saints next and attempt to answer those questions and more.
Offensive Stats Comparison
Minnesota Vikings Overall Offense
- Ranked 16th overall in 2019
- Passing attack currently ranked 23rd
- Rushing attack currently ranked 6th
With Kirk Cousins under center, the Vikings offense has been just okay (they rank in the middle of the NFL overall), though the 25.4 points per game they have been averaging all season puts them at 8th best in the league in scoring.
After resting his injured shoulder for the last two weeks, Vikings’ star running back Dalvin Cook says he is “ready to go” against the Saints in this Wild Card round, and it’s a good thing because it’s been Minnesota’s run game that has kept their offense on the field and on the scoreboard (Cook has 13 rushing touchdowns this season).
Cook’s damaged shoulder is still listed as questionable on the Vikings’ injury report, as is his backup, Alexander Mattison, who is trying to recover from an ankle injury, both game-time decisions at this point.
New Orleans Saints Overall Offense
- Ranked 9th overall in 2019
- Passing attack currently ranked 7th
- Rushing attack currently ranked 16th
After a thumb injury kept him to just 11 games this regular season, Drew Brees wasn’t the most productive quarterback in the league, but his 74.3 completion percentage leads the NFL and his Saints averaged the 3rd most points per game this season (28.6).
New Orleans wide receiver Michael Thomas is incredible – he leads the league in receiver production after catching 149 balls in the regular season for 1,725 yards (that’s 325+ more yards than the next in line) and 9 touchdowns, averaging 11.6 yards per catch.
Like most NFL teams at this point in the season, the Saints are suffering from multiple injuries, with fourteen of their players on the injured reserve list right now, and fullback Zach Line (knee) may have to sit this one out, currently listed as questionable for the Wild Card round.
The New Orleans Saints have the offensive advantage in this one simply by having Drew Brees under center, but playing at home also helps, as does having the best wide receiver in the league, though the Vikings’ Cook is known to swing the edge back towards Minnesota at times.
Defensive Stats Comparison
Minnesota Vikings Overall Defense
- Ranked 14th overall in 2019
- Passing defense currently ranked 15th
- Rushing defense currently ranked 13th
The Minnesota Vikings allow opponents to score an average of almost 19 points per game, and they’ve intercepted 17 passes and sacked 48 opposing quarterbacks during the regular NFL season.
One player on the Vikings’ defense that doesn’t get near enough attention is defensive end Ifeadi Odenigbo, who currently has 7.0 sacks, 13 quarterback hits, a forced fumble, 2 fumble recoveries (one for a touchdown) and 23 total tackles (7 for a loss).
The Vikings could be affected by injury on the defensive side of the ball, with linebacker Eric Kendricks (quadriceps) listed as questionable for Sunday, a game-time decision that could affect the way Minnesota game plans against the Saints.
New Orleans Saints Overall Defense
- Ranked 11th overall in 2019
- Passing defense currently ranked 20th
- Rushing defense currently ranked 4th
New Orleans has allowed opponents to score an average of 21.3 points per game (13th most) and they have 13 total interceptions while posting the third-most quarterback sacks in the league with 51.
Saints’ defensive end Cameron Jordan has the third-most sacks in the league right now, with 15.5 of them, plus he has 25 quarterback hits, a recovered fumble and 53 total tackles (with 15 of those for a loss).
The Saints may have to get by without a few of their key defensive players on Sunday, with safeties Vonn Bell (knee) and Marcus Williams (groin) and cornerback Eli Apple (ankle) all listed as questionable for this one.
The Saints have a slight defensive advantage on Sunday, plus they are playing at home, so they get the 12th man helping them disrupt the ability of the Vikings’ offense to communicate with one another.
Vikings vs Saints – Final Game Analysis
Why Will the Vikings Win this Game?
The Minnesota Vikings will win this one if Dalvin Cook is healthy enough to have a huge game – without him, their offense tends to struggle – but with him posting 20+ carries for 100+ yards, the Vikings could dominate time of possession and control the pace of the game.
No doubt, to win, Kirk Cousins will have to have the biggest game of his career – he must be tired of the ‘big game loser’ reputation he’s developed and there is no better way to destroy that rep than by coming out victorious in New Orleans.
The Vikings’ defense will have to make Drew Brees uncomfortable, and that’s not been done all season (Brees has been sacked just 12 times), but putting the ‘old man’ on the run could create the kind of mistakes needed for a miraculous Minnesota win.
Why Will the Saints Win this Game?
The New Orleans Saints are the better team here – they’re favored by over a touchdown, after all – so they will win this game simply by showing up and doing what they do, which is attack with a balanced run/pass game and use their surprisingly excellent defense to prevent their opponents from spending too much time on the field.
Brees is hungry for another Super Bowl ring before he retires, and there is no way these Vikings are going to keep his better offense and defense from this first step towards his second Lombardi, especially in front of their hometown crowd, but slowing down Cook’s run game will have to happen first, which is no easy task (when he’s healthy, at least).
The Saints will win this one by getting Michael Thomas and Jared Cook the ball – but only after running backs Alvin Kamara and Latavius Murray establish their run game early on, a clear recipe for a New Orleans’ victory every time.
Minnesota Vikings vs New Orleans Saints – Who Will Win?
The New Orleans Saints will win this one in the fourth quarter – Drew Brees to Michael Thomas will be too much to handle and placekicker Wil Lutz is money, though Dalvin Cook will put up a terrific fight for the Vikings, regardless.
The Green Men of WSN’s Picks and Best Bets Podcast predict the New Orleans Saints will win this one.
My prediction for the final score is Saints 29, Vikings 25
Minnesota Vikings vs New Orleans Saints Odds