NFL fan Joshua Jones (@JoshuapsJones) oversees Christmas Day's action from Week 16.
Minnesota Vikings @ New Orleans Saints | Friday 25th December 2020, 21:30 | Sky Sports
The stuttering New Orleans Saints (10-4) kick off Week 16 as they play host to the disappointing Minnesota Vikings (6-8) on Christmas Day.
The last time these two sides met was 11 months ago under the roof of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, as the visitors dumped the division-winning Saints out of the playoffs in overtime.
It was a bitterly disappointing loss for New Orleans, whose quest for the big prize was once again halted by the Vikings, less than two years after the infamous ‘Minneapolis Miracle’.
Minnesota are what they are. A run-first offense behind one of the best backs in the NFL, who have more than enough explosive players in the passing game to not have to rely on that strategy.
Per DVOA, Skol are the #6 ranked rushing attack and the #16 ranked passing attack. Unfortunately for them, they’re up against the #2 defense in the league (#3 v Pass, #2 v Rush).
Its that defense which sees the Saints doing so well, and it’s been the cornerstone of their performances during a tumultuous QB situation.
Drew Brees was under centre last week for the first time since fracturing 11 ribs in Week 10, but it was hardly the return he had envisioned – the future hall-of-famer went 0-6 on seven dropbacks in NOLA’s first four drives, getting sacked once for -9 yards and throwing an interception
It felt as though they rushed him back somewhat where it was not necessary, given they have very little chance in the playoffs without a fully fit Brees.
They are going to make the postseason at least, which is more than can be said for their opponents. At 6-8, the Vikings are in the ‘outside-looking-in’ of the NFC playoff picture, with back-to-back losses to the Bears and Buccaneers leaving them in need of another miracle to make it to Wild Card Weekend.
Honestly, this game feels like a minefield. -7 on the Saints doesn’t really appeal to me, but then again neither does +7 on the Vikings. The total opened at 53 but has since come down to 51, showing there’s been sharp money on the under there.
Interestingly though, these are two of the best over sides in the league. Both teams are hitting the over 64% of the time this season, so Over 51 Points might be worth a look at 49/50.
Along those lines, I wouldn’t advise against Minnesota Vikings +9.5 and Over 43.5 Points at 6/5 with Paddypower. The Saints are 2-5 ATS when favoured by four or more points this season and, when excluding the Kendall Hinton game, their average point differential when favoured by four or more is just 2.6.
The bet I will be on, however, is Saints -2.5 Second Quarter Handicap at 4/5 with Betfair. The Vikings have lost the second quarter in six of their last seven games, failing to cover this number in all six games. In fact, they’ve been outscored 57-25 in the second quarter of those games.
The Saints score an average of 11.6 at home in the quarter, which seems then ranked 2nd in the league, whilst the Vikings average just 4.4 points per quarter – ranking them 30th in the league.
Minnesota Vikings @ New Orleans Saints – New Orleans Saints -2.5 Second Quarter Handicap (4/5 Betfair)