Minnesota Vikings vs. New Orleans Saints Preview and Pick

Minnesota Vikings (1-3) +3, 47 O/U at New Orleans Saints (2-2) -3,
47 O/U, SuperDome, New Orleans, La., 8:30 PM Eastern, Monday

by Badger of Predictem.com

If the Minnesota Vikings are going to get things turned around and
make a push for the playoffs, like most experts predicted they
would, a strong performance in front of a national audience on ESPNs
Monday Night Football versus the New Orleans Saints in the Superdome
is a must this week.

The Vikings closed the gap to within a touchdown on the road last
week in Tennessee, but an interception on a deflected pass late in
the fourth quarter gave the Titans all of the cushion they needed for
a comfortable 30-17 victory. Protecting the ball continues to plague
the Vikings offense, as they lost three fumbles in addition to the
late pick and also allowed four sacks in the loss to the Titans.

The Saints return to the Superdome last week provided a return to the win column too, as quarterback Drew Brees threw for 363 yards and
three touchdowns in their 31-17 victory over San Francisco on Sunday.
Despite being without two big weapons in Marques Colston and Jeremy
Shockey, Brees found nine different receivers and helped the Saints
keep pace with the Buccaneers and Panthers in the competitive NFC
South race.

Oddsmakers opened the Monday night contest with the Saints as the
standard 3-point favorites at home. The total opened at 47, and both
numbers have remained there throughout early betting at the window.

Minnesotas offense has improved since the switch to Gus Frerotte at
quarterback two weeks ago. The unit is ranked 14th overall (323 ypg)
and continues to be fueled by the strong running of Adrian Peterson
(6th in rushing yards 141.5 ypg), but Frerotte threw for 266 yards
versus a strong Tennessee pass defense and also spread the wealth by
using eight different receivers. They still have yet to get a 100-
yard receiving day from any of their receivers however, and continue
to be plagued by inconsistency in the red zone when teams stack the
box to take away Peterson.

A lot of people were ready to bury New Orleans last week when it was
learned that Shockey was joining Colston on the disabled list with
injury, but Brees proved his value by rallying the troops to an
impressive win (albeit over the 49ers). On paper the Saints look like
they could have another strong week in the air versus the Vikings, as
the Saints own the leagues top passing game (327.2 ypg) and the 5th
best scoring offense (27.8 ppg) going up against the leagues 17th-
ranked pass defense (207.5 ypg).

The Vikings defense has improved over last season, as they are
currently ranked 6th overall allowing 279.2 yards a game. As
mentioned, the pass defense is still suspect, but at least the
Vikings are holding teams in the red zone and forcing a lot of field
goals as they are still in the top half of the league in points
allowed with a 20.5 ppg average.

If the Saints cant improve on defense, their offense may not get a
chance to play pitch-n-catch on offense. The Saints are 27th overall
allowing 372 yards a game, including the 20th-ranked defense versus
the rush (122.8 ypg) and the 29th-ranked defense versus the pass
(249.2 ypg). Any way you look at it, those numbers need to improve
quickly or the Saints may not be able to catch up to the Buccaneers
and Panthers in the NFC South standings.

These two teams havent played since the Vikings 33-16 victory in September of 2005. The Vikings have owned the Saints historically,
winning seven of the last 10 games between the squads, including
three in a row with two of the three coming in the Superdome. The
Vikings also own a 7-3 ATS record versus the Saints, including three
in a row and five of the last six.

The over has been a strong bet as well when these two teams matchup, as it has cashed in at the window at a 7-2-1 clip including three in
a row and six of the last eight.

Thats not the only betting trend favoring the over though. The over
is 14-3-1 in the Saints last 18 games versus a team from the NFC.
Its also 8-0-1 in the Saints last nine games overall. The Vikings, a
dome team themselves, sport a strong 7-3 record for the over in field
turf stadiums. But they have historically struggled in the Monday
Night Football spotlight, as they have actually come in under the
total in eight of their last 10 on Monday.

Badgers Pick: Can you say shootout? The Saints defense is bad, and they will have a hard time stopping Peterson all game. Meanwhile, the
Saints will toss the ball around a lot against the Vikings weak-link
secondary. Take the over of 47 in this game and let the fireworks begin.