Saints vs. Vikings Divisional Round (Odds Updated) Expert Picks

Posted January 15, 2018

In what might be the biggest game of the divisional round, the No. 2 Minnesota Vikings will host the No. 4 New Orleans Saints in the final game of the week.

The Vikings waived tight end Kyle Carter on Saturday to make room for Bradford, who last played at Chicago on October 9 and returned to practice last week after recovering from a left knee injury. That means bettors are putting more money on the Vikings to cover the spread.

Adrian Peterson was of course still in the mix for the Saints when the Vikings beat them 29-19 in Week 1, but the Ingram / Kamara duo had 13 carries for 35 yards in that game, with Kamara adding four catches. Case Keenum was probably taking a nap on the sideline.

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Bridgewater has served as the backup since Week 10 for the Vikings, who have not had three quarterbacks listed as active since Mike Zimmer became their coach.

As the Vikings began preparations this week for their first NFC divisional playoff game in eight years, the team rolled out a new slogan for the playoffs: "Bring It Home". The Patriots and the Steelers in the AFC both look very formidable, but if Minnesota wins Sunday, we should expect to have to watch them on Super Bowl Sunday.

In recent weeks the ground game has stalled to some degree and to win in the divisional round both Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara will need to reassert some form of dominance toting the football. We had read - or in some cases, written - that story countless times before.

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The other thing New Orleans has going for it, is the running game. When Bridgewater finally made it back during this season it was a great story. The Vikes have somehow managed to find new and creative ways to jab a stick in the eye of their fans in the playoffs since last reaching the Super Bowl in January 1977. The Vikings are seventh in the league averaging 122 yards rushing per game, and the Saints have run for 129 per game.

The Saints finished the regular season with an 11-5 record, which was just good enough to win the NFC South.

Sam in shadows: Quarterback Sam Bradford returned to practice this week as he recovers from arthroscopic knee surgery, but the Vikings don't figure to dress the Week 1 starter for Sunday's game. The Vikings were third best in the NFL converting 43.5 percent of their third downs compared to a Saints defense that ranked 27th in the league by allowing 41.5 percent of third downs to be converted against them.

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