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Debating Tonight’s Saints/Vikings Game

Posted by in NFL Picks on October 6th, 2008 | Comment »

Thanks to the Sunday Night teaser and the Chicago game, it put me in the black despite a huge Chargers let down and now it’s time for Monday Night Football. Tonight, we have the Minnesota Vikings @ New Orleans Saints. The Saints are 3-point favorites and the over/under is set at 46.5. So far, the Saints are 3-0-1 on the over and the Vikings are 2-2 on the over. Most people think the over is the play to make, but the Saints won’t keep putting up 30+ points every game, especially not against a defense like the Vikings, but so far the Vikings haven’t been overly impressive. Everyone thought the Vikings would rack up sacks with Jared Allen on that line, but he’s only had 2 sacks this year. Their team has only had 7 sacks this year (ranked 23rd) and Drew Brees has only been sacked 4 times this year. The Vikings are allowing 20.5 PPG and the Saints are allowing 25 PPG. The Saint’s 27.8 PPG is 7th in the league compared to the Vikings 17.8 PPG (ranked 23rd). The Vikings have managed only 2 INTs to the Saints 4.

The Saints have a lot of injuries on their defense, the key injury being to 1st-round pick DT Sedrick Ellis. That loss means the team is without their two starting DTs. The Saints are already 27th in yards allowed, 19th against the run (allowing 123 YPG), and 29th against the pass (allowing 250 YPG). What they lack in defense, they’ve made up in offense, but can they keep passing against a team that is 7th in yards allowed and a team that allows just 207 YPG passing (ranked 16th)? The Vikings are also 3rd against the run, allowing just 72 YPG.

At 11/13 experts are picking the Saints. I may do a teaser with taking the Vikings +10 or Saints +4, I still can’t decide and going with the over 39.5. The Saints over is 8-0-1 in their last 9. You can be assured that they will both score and give up points, which makes the over a safe play. The over is also 7-3 in Minnesota’s last 10 games on turf. The injuries to the Saints starting DTs is making me want to play the injury card (see the Packers depleted secondary against the Falcons yesterday) and counting on a big game from Adrian Peterson, but I’m not confident with Gus Ferrotte as the Vikings QB. You can count on him making a key INT in the game at some point. He’s completing 57% of his passes, has 1 TD, 2 INTs, and a poor 70.7 passer rating. Also a big question: will the Vikings defense that dominated the Panthers show up or will the defense that laid down to the Titans show up? You also have to think, even without the the starting Saints DTs, you can be confident that Vilma and Fujita assigned to handle Peterson would be able to at least contain him somewhat. The Saints have also had the upperhand against the spread this year, the Saints are 3-1 ATS this year and Vikings are 1-3 ATS.

I say the Saints stuff the box to stop Peterson and make Ferotte try to beat them with his arm and I don’t see it happening. Peterson has been held to under 80 yards in his last two games (against the Panthers and Titans though, two very good defenses). The Vikings are great against the run, but they’ve struggled against the pass and that’s what the Saints will come out doing with their 1st ranked passing attack. I think it’s better to play home-field advantage and take the Saints +4 and over 39.5. If you don’t want to mess with the over/under, taking the Saints -3 isn’t bad either, but I could see this one being a tight game throughout. The Saints should give up 20 and score more than 20, so I think the over 39.5 is safe and if the Vikings still escape with a W by a field goal, I’m still in good shape. I’m not prepared to bet on a team led by Gus Ferrotte, I’ll take the Saints. 3-1 ATS vs. 1-3 ATS. The Saints just better be prepared to deal with AP.

Key Stats: Vikings have allowed 27 PPG in their away games this year and have averaged only 18 PPG on the road. Those were against the Titans and Packers. Somewhat alarming stat: Vikings have allowed only 2 passing TDs (1 to Aaron Rodgers, 1 to Peyton Manning), but have given up 6 rushing TDs (3 to the Titans). On the other hand, the Saints have given up only 2 rushing TDs, but have allowed 5 passing TDs.

Tonight’s Pick: 7-point teaser Saints +4, Over 39.5.

Prediction: Saints 27 – Vikings 23

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