Monday Night Football Predictions: New Orleans Saints at Minnesota Vikings Odds & Picks
I'm convinced I would have a much happier marriage - not that it's unhappy -- if I lived on the West Coast. Why am I telling you this? It has nothing to do with weather or demographics or employment opportunities or cost of living, etc. No, it has to do with the NFL.
Week 1 of the season is great for many reasons, and one of them is the only scheduled Monday night doubleheader of the year (there will be a second one in 2017 because Christmas falls on a Monday). I have always lived in the Eastern Time Zone. And as an adult, I generally base my Thursday, Sunday and Monday nights during fall/early winter around the NFL games - thus essentially ignoring the wife. So I can't even imagine all the free social time that West Coast people have those nights during football season since all games end by about 9 p.m. local time. Week 1 is usually their only chance to watch a prime-time NFL game for the year (there are always 10:30 ET NCAA games).
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It's a solid doubleheader opener in 2017 with the Saints visiting the Vikings in a 7:10 kickoff (about 80 minutes earlier than normal) and then Chargers at Broncos in the nightcap at 10:20 ET. The Bolts and Broncos will play again this season, and the Saints and Vikings likely won't, so we'll go with the early game. Plus, that has the best story line: Adrian Peterson.
Saints at Vikings Betting Story Lines
Let's say you are a bit too old for your job, had a terrible 2016 calendar year and took dozens of sick days. Would you expect your employer to pick up some huge option year on your contract (if you work under one)? Of course not. Yet Peterson is still PO'd that the Vikings didn't pick up his $18 million option for 2017. First off, no running back is worth $18 million for one season. Second, Peterson was limited to three games due to injury last year and averaged an ugly 1.9 yards per carry. Third, he is 32 years old and running backs usually fall off a cliff after hitting 30. Fourth, Peterson doesn't exactly have a spotless off-the-field resume.
The Saints were happy to snap Peterson up on a two-year deal even though they already had a good running back in Mark Ingram. Peterson admits he wants to "stick it" to his former franchise. Maybe he's just self-motivating himself, but there's likely a bit of a chip on his shoulder. I'm not sure how much the Saints use him with Ingram around and a guy named Drew Brees, a future Hall of Famer like Peterson, under center. Perhaps the Saints run more in 2017 to save the 38-year-old Brees from taking extra hits. New Orleans has finished 7-9 the past three seasons and that exact same record this year wouldn't surprise me.
Minnesota won the NFC North in 2015 but slipped to 8-8 last year because of a lack of a running game. QB Sam Bradford played about as well as expected after coming over in a late-August trade from the Eagles. He set an NFL record in completing 71.6 percent of his passes for 3,877 yards, 20 TDs and just five picks. I promise you that a majority of NFL teams would take those numbers from their quarterback in 2017. I do think the Vikings will be much better on the ground this year with the addition of Raiders free agent Latavius Murray but more so second-round Florida State rookie Dalvin Cook.
Where the Vikings will win most games, though, is on defense. That group was No. 3 last year in total defense, No. 3 against the pass and No. 6 in scoring (19.2). The run defense (20th) could use some improvement. Five Vikings defenders - LB Anthony Barr, DE Everson Griffen, DE Linval Joseph, CB Xavier Rhodes and S Harrison Smith - were Pro Bowlers, tied for the second-most in any single unit, offense or defense, in the NFL. Somehow, rising superstar Danielle Hunter wasn't named to the Pro Bowl. The end became the youngest player ever to lead the Vikings in sacks with 12.5 at age 22. Meanwhile, the Saints offense ranked first in yards per game (426) and second in points per game (29.3) last season.
Saints at Vikings Betting Odds and Trends
At 5Dimes , Minnesota is a 3-point favorite (-125) with a total of 48. On the moneyline, the Vikings are -170 and Saints +150. On the alternate lines, Minnesota is -3.5 (+100) and -2.5 (-150). The Saints were an excellent 10-5-1 ATS last season (6-1-1 on road) and 9-7 "over/under" (4-4 on road). The Vikings were 9-7 ATS (6-2 at home) and 7-9 O/U (3-5 at home).
The Saints are 8-2 ATS in their past 10 vs. the NFC. They are 1-4 ATS in their past five on Monday and 1-5 ATS in past six in Week 1. The Vikings have covered five straight in September but are 1-8 ATS in previous nine on Monday. The over is 8-3 in New Orleans' past 11 in September. The under is 10-4 in Minnesota's past 14 vs. the NFC. The favorite is 5-2 ATS in the past seven meetings.
Saints at Vikings Betting Prediction
Minnesota has lost four straight in the series, but the teams haven't met since 2014. The Saints won that 20-9 at home in Week 3. Brees passed for 293 yards and two touchdowns. That was back in the middle of the Peterson off-the-field mess, and he didn't play. It was also the NFL debut of Vikings rookie QB Teddy Bridgewater, once the future of the franchise but still working his way back from that devastating knee injury that wiped out his 2016 season and necessitated the trade for Bradford.
Former Vikings WR Randy Moss is set to be inducted in the team's Ring of Honor during a halftime ceremony. The Saints have never played in U.S. Bank Stadium, host of this year's Super Bowl. I like Minnesota here, on the 2.5-point alternate line. Go under the total.
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Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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