No team has ever played in the Super Bowl in its home stadium, but the Minnesota Vikings are hoping to change all of that this year. They’re the favorites to win the NFC, but they have a long road ahead of them, starting in the Divisional Round of the playoffs against the New Orleans Saints.
Saints Playoff History
The Saints have an 8-9 all-time record in the playoffs. While this is neither a bad nor great mark, the one thing that clearly stands out is the franchise’s home/away split in that span.
New Orleans has won just one road playoff game in its history, that coming a few seasons ago against a Philadelphia team that has been one of the most snake-bitten in the playoffs in NFL history.
This is the sixth time New Orleans has reached the Divisional Round. The team is 2-0 when it has had a first-round bye and 0-3 when it hasn’t.
Vikings Playoff History
The Vikings have a good history of covering spreads against New Orleans in the playoffs, going 3-0 ATS alongside a 2-1 SU mark. The one loss in this series, though, was the last postseason game these two played against each other in the 2010 NFC Championship Game. The Saints won 31-28 in a dramatic overtime victory that pitted two future Hall of Famers against each other in Brett Favre and Drew Brees.
Minnesota hasn’t won a playoff game since that point, going 0-3 while failing to reach the Divisional Round of the playoffs.
The Vikings have been in the Divisional Round 20 times in the past, going 9-11 in those games. That said, 15 of those appearances came between 1969 and 1990.
Why New Orleans Will Beat the Vikings
There are a lot of quarterback mismatches in the playoffs this week, but the argument could be made that none are bigger than Brees against Case Keenum. The Houston Cougars product is the only man playing this weekend who has never started a playoff game (though that isn’t quite fair since Marcus Mariota, Blake Bortles and Nick Foles all have just one postseason start in their careers), and we have no idea how he’s going to react to playing on the biggest stage of his career.
Brees, meanwhile, has been here and done that, and we know that he can make the big plays when he has to.
The Saints picked up Brees all season in 2017 with a great ground game and a big-time defense. Those two facets both failed on Sunday against Carolina, but even with Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram limited and the defense looking gassed at the end of the game, Brees did plenty with his 378 passing yards to get the job done.
Why Minnesota Will Beat the Saints
It’s hard to point at just one thing in which the Vikings excel. Their front seven is particularly good, and their secondary is underrated. Their wide receivers seem to constantly be in the right positions, and the ground game — though not nearly as good as it was with Dalvin Cook — is still getting the job done with Jerick McKinnon and Latavius Murray.
There’s the risk that the Vikes have been all smoke and mirrors, but they’ve played some big games against good teams, too. Remember that they dominated the Saints in the first meeting in September, a 29-19 triumph that came with Sam Bradford playing instead of Keenum.
Saints vs. Vikings Prediction
Both of these teams are really good, and the winner is probably going to be favored in the NFC Championship Game regardless of whether the opponent is Atlanta or Philadelphia.
For as good as the Saints have been, they still have some cracks defensively, and they almost showed it against Carolina. Such a bad showing this time around in Minneapolis will surely end in a defeat.
Call it lucky, or call it good, but give the Vikes this much: They win games. Sometimes, that’s all you need to do in the postseason, and we think that Keenum is going to make himself a lot of money by outgunning Brees in an exciting game.
Saints vs. Vikings Pick: Minnesota 27, New Orleans 24
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