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Matchups Week 4: Vikings vs. Saints

Vikings vs. Saints
Sep 25, 2022; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; New Orleans Saints linebacker Demario Davis (56) reacts on a play against the Carolina Panthers during the second half at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

London: Minnesota Vikings (2-1) vs. New Orleans Saints (1-2)

Opening Spread: Vikings -2.5.

Opening Game Total: 44.

Team Totals: Vikings (23.25), Saints (20.75).

Weather: Outdoors, chance of rain.

The Line Report

  • This line opened between Vikings -2.5 and Vikings -3.
  • This line has settled at Vikings -2.5 as of early Thursday morning.
  • DraftKings Pick’Em has the Vikings -2.5.
  • Circa Sports Millions Pro Football Contest also has the Vikings -2.5
  • This total opened at 44 points.
  • This total has moved slightly up to 44.5 points as of early Thursday morning.

Notable Injuries

Saints: IR: OT Trevor Penning. Questionable: QB Jameis Winston, RB Alvin Kamara, WR Michael Thomas, WR Jarvis Landry, WR Tre’Quan Smith, LG Andrus Peat, Edge Marcus Davenport, CB Paulson Adebo, S Marcus Maye.

Vikings: Questionable: RB Dalvin Cook, Edge Za’Darius Smith.

The Saints Offense vs. the Vikings Defense

From a macro sense, I view this matchup as a relative draw in the trenches. That said, Minnesota has a solid pass rush duo that could give Saints backup left tackle James Hurst some problems.

Winston did not practice on Thursday. Winston is already playing through multiple injuries, and he was a disaster last week in Carolina. Even though Andy Dalton’s best seasons are several years in the rearview mirror, he’s still among the better backups in the league.

Three of New Orleans' best four skill position players are on the injury report. If Kamara, Thomas or Landry miss this contest, that will reduce one of the strengths of this team. Further, we can’t expect either Winston or Dalton to elevate their offense significantly.

Notes and Observations

  • The Saints are 0-3 against the spread this season.
  • The Saints are 1-2 on overs this season.
  • Per The Edge, Winston is seventh in the league in yards passing and ninth in yards per attempt. 
  • Kamara has already missed a game this season, but he’s seen 11 targets and 24 carries during the two games he’s played.
  • The Vikings have allowed the eighth-most yards rushing and the ninth-most yards receiving to opposing running backs this season.
  • Saints rookie wide receiver Chris Olave leads New Orleans in target share (26.1%) and air yards share (44.5%), which is good for sixth overall among wide receivers.
  • Thomas (19.8% target share, 17.2% air yards share) and Landry (17.1% target share, 16.3% air yards share) are both on the injury report. Thomas missed Wednesday and Thursday’s practice, and Landry missed Wednesday but was a limited participant on Thursday.
  • Through the first three games, the Vikings have allowed the sixth-most yards receiving on the seventh-most receptions to opposing wide receivers.
  • Saints tight end Juwann Johnson leads the team in snaps (160) with a solid 11.7% target share. While Adam Trautman has seen 108 snaps himself. Johnson is significantly ahead of him on routes run 81-to-25 and target share (Trautman’s is only .9%).
  • Minnesota has allowed the ninth-most yards receiving on the 12th-most receptions to tight ends this season.

The Vikings Offense vs. the Saints Defense

The Saints' front four has the worst pressure rate in the league this season. While I expect positive regression on that front sooner than later, I’ve moved the Saints' front four down from a fringe top-10 unit towards the back of the middle of my rankings. That has me treating this trench matchup as a relative draw while being aware this could be a breakthrough game for the Saints front.

Notes and Observations

  • The Vikings are 1-2 against the spread this season.
  • The Vikings are 1-2 on overs this season.
  • Per The Edge, Kirk Cousins is 16th in the league in yards passing, 27th in yards per attempt and 32nd in air yards per attempt.
  • There are no guarantees it happens this week against a solid Saints defense, but positive regression is coming for Cousins in his yards per attempt metrics.
  • Among running backs, Dalvin Cook is a disappointing 24th in yards rushing and 35th in yards receiving. Cook is currently on the injury report with a separated shoulder, an injury he’s played through in the past.
  • The Saints have allowed the ninth-most yards rushing and the fourth-fewest yards receiving to running backs this season.
  • After a monster Week 1, Justin Jefferson has substantially cooled down during the past two weeks. Jefferson still leads Minnesota's pass catchers in snaps (183), routes run (120), target share (25.2%) and air yards share (32.7%).
  • New Orleans has allowed the 19th most yards receiving on the fifth-fewest receptions to wide receivers through the first three games.
  • Despite being eased in on opening day due to a finger injury, Irv Smith Jr. is 16th among tight ends in target share (14.4%), and 10th in air yards share (13.8%).
  • New Orleans has allowed the second-fewest yards receiving and the fourth-fewest receptions to tight ends this season.

This is What You’re Betting On in Vikings vs. Saints

A bet on the Saints is a bet on a well-built roster headlined by a volatile quarterback. That statement is true whether Winston or Dalton starts. If you’re betting on New Orleans, you’re betting on them in a correction spot after their ugly loss in Carolina last week. Apart from facing a talented Vikings team, your biggest concern is some of the Saints' best players are currently on the injury report. If you’re considering any kind of bet on New Orleans, check up on this contest's most recent injury news. 

A bet on the Vikings is a bet on a team that slipped past the Lions during the final moments of last week’s contest. Minnesota’s talented offense has played below expectations this season. If you’re betting on Minnesota, you’re betting on the good version of Cousins showing up. A bet on the Vikings is also a direct bet against whoever starts at quarterback for New Orleans. 

Vikings vs. Saints Pool Picks

Awards Market Ramifications: Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell is a Coach of the Year candidate. Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson is an Offensive Player of the Year contender. Saints wide receiver Chris Olave is an Offensive Rookie of the Year contender.

Winner/ Confidence Pool: I am currently leaning towards the Vikings side here, but I’m treating this as more of a coin flip game where I expect to have Minnesota in the bottom third of my confidence pool rankings.

Spread Pool: I tend to avoid games played in Europe, but given the injuries to various difference makers on the Saints, I’m considering Minnesota in tournaments.

Survivor: This contest should be avoided for survivor purposes.

WATCH MORE: Cam Jordan Breaks Down the Saints Matchup Against the Vikings in London.