The New Orleans Saints host the Minnesota Vikings at the Mercedes Benz Stadium on Christmas Day 2020.
New Orleans is coming off a close 32-29 loss to the defending Super Bowl champions Kansas City Chiefs in Drew Brees’ return after missing four games due to injury. Meanwhile, the Vikings lost to the Chicago Bears 33-27 last Thursday. The Saints are already in the playoffs but they want that top spot in the NFC to get the first-round bye. On the other hand, the Vikings’ chances of making the postseason are very slim right now although they are not yet mathematically out.
The Vikings have dropped their last two games and those may have cost them their shot at the postseason. Minnesota now needs to win out and they still need a lot of help from other teams to sneak in and get a wild card spot. They are currently 9th in the NFC and two games behind the Arizona Cardinals with only two games to play so it’s pretty hard from hereon.
Kirk Cousins completed 68.6% of his passes and threw for 271 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Minnesota outgained Chicago 407-397 but they gave up 199 yards on the ground which made the difference in the game. Dalvin Cook rushed for 132 yards on 24 carries while Justin Jefferson led the receiving corps with eight catches for 104 yards. Jefferson has 73 catches for 1,182 yards (8th in the NFL) with seven touchdowns while Adam Thielen has 771 receiving yards with 13 scores.
The Minnesota offense is ranked 5th overall with 387.1 total yards per game. They are also 5th in rushing at 147.7 yards per game but their defense has been the problem. The Vikings rank in the bottom third in most defensive statistics like points allowed at 27.7, passing yards per game at 252.4, and rushing yards per game at 125.6 per outing.
The Saints are already in the playoffs but in this game, they have a chance to clinch the division title and are just one game behind the Green Bay Packers for the top seed in the NFC and a playoff bye. The Packers own the tiebreaker over them but New Orleans holds the tiebreaker against Seattle for second place in the NFC. The Saints may have lost their last game against the Chiefs but at least they got Drew Brees back after four games.
Brees has completed 70.1% of his passes this season and has 21 touchdowns and four interceptions. Alvin Kamara leads the Saints with 771 rushing yards and 10 rushing touchdowns. Kamara has also been their top receiver with 739 yards on 80 catches with five receiving scores. Emmanuel Sanders also has 48 catches and 580 receiving yards with 5 scores.
New Orleans is the 9th highest-scoring team in the NFL at 28.2 points per game. They also have the 4th best scoring defense at only 21.2 points per game allowed this season. The Saints have the league’s 7th best rushing attack at 131.8 yards on the ground per contest. They are 21st in passing at 232.0 yards through the air per game.
Minnesota is 5-5 SU in their last 10 games played. The Vikings are 12-4 SU in their last 16 games played against the NFC South division. New Orleans is 9-2 SU in their last 11 games played. The Saints are 4-1 SU in their last five games played at home. Head to head, the Vikings are 3-1 SU in their last four games played against the Saints.
Minnesota’s playoff chances have gotten even smaller after losing to the Bears. At 6-8 SU, the Vikings need to win their last two games and then need a lot of help to earn a wild card spot. The defense struggled last week as Minnesota allowed 4.7 yards per carry, forced just one punt, and didn’t pressure Trubisky enough.
All-Pro linebacker Eric Kendricks has missed the team’s last three games and a short week will not help the team get their leading tackler back.
Drew Brees struggled last week as he went 5-16 with 87 passing yards and one interception in the first half. Clearly, he was not yet back to full strength after missing four games due to broken ribs and a collapsed lung. Michael Thomas has been shut down due to injury while Deonte Harris is also on the injury reserve list. Tre’Quan Smith also left the last game with an ankle injury.
This is the first time since 2017 where the Saints have lost back to back games. They are 19-6 after suffering back to back losses dating back to Payton’s second season as coach in 2007. If history proves correct, the Saints should bounce back with a victory here.
The Saints abandoned their running game against the Chiefs last week and paid dearly. I don’t think they will commit the same mistake here. New Orleans has the league’s 7th best rushing offense led by Alvin Kamara and they should have their way against a struggling Minnesota defense.
Prediction: New Orleans Saints
The Vikings are 0-5 ATS in their last five games played. Minnesota is 4-1 ATS in their last five games played on the road. The Saints are 5-1-1 ATS in their last seven games played. New Orleans is 4-1-1 ATS in their last six December games, and 3-3-1 ATS in seven home games this season. Head to head, the Vikings are 6-4 ATS in their last 10 games played against the Saints. Minnesota is also 6-1 ATS in their last seven road games played against New Orleans.
New Orleans is 5-2 at home this season with their only losses to the top teams in each conference in Green Bay and Kansas City. Minnesota has not played that well this season and their wins have come against teams with poor records this season, with the exception of the Packers. Brees already has one game under his belt since his return so I expect him to be closer to 100% here. New Orleans’ defense has been great against the run and I think they have the goods to contain Dalvin Cook and cover the spread. A win clinches the NFC South for the Saints and I think that’s a big motivation.
Prediction: New Orleans Saints -7.5
The total has gone over in 8 out of the last 12 games played by the Vikings. The under is 4-2 in Minnesota’s six road games played this season. The total has gone under in five out of the last seven games played by the Saints. The under is 4-1 in their last five games against the NFC. Head to head, the total has gone over in eight out of the last 12 games played between these two teams.
The Saints are coming off a pair of games where they surrendered 32 and 24 points. However, they are a very excellent defensive team that has allowed just an average of 21.4 points per game this season. In fact, they only conceded a total of 44 points in their five games prior to their slump. Both teams like to run the ball which will speed up the clock and keep the score low.
Prediction: Under 51
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