It’s Christmas, a superb time to replicate on our blessings. A kind of blessings — for soccer followers and bettors alike — is a uncommon 4 consecutive days of NFL motion, beginning with a Christmas Day matinee. Kicking off this Christmas weekend of pigskin bliss, the Saints (10-4) host the Vikings (6-8) on the Superdome. The Saints are listed as -7 favorites (-310 ML), and the over/beneath is ready at 51 complete factors.
New Orleans felt blessed final week when veteran chief and future Corridor-of-Fame quarterback Drew Brees returned from a four-week absence after struggling 11 damaged ribs and a punctured lung. Brees struggled early in opposition to the Chiefs however almost mounted a second-half comeback in opposition to the defending Tremendous Bowl champions, finally falling quick 32-29. In the meantime, the Vikings are possible simply grateful their season is nearly mercifully over and that they’ve Offensive Participant of the 12 months candidate Dalvin Prepare dinner on their facet.
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We at BetQL at all times need to assist you obtain betting success, which is why we’ve supplied a complete Thursday Evening Soccer betting preview and predictions right here at Sporting Information each week of the season. We will inform you proper now that for this Friday Afternoon Soccer recreation, we’re all-in on the OVER of 51 factors, with our BetQL Greatest Wager Mannequin itemizing it as a full five-star guess. Preserve studying to disclose our detailed preview for this Christmas contest, in addition to our full predictions in opposition to the unfold and on the moneyline.
The Vikings have skilled a pair completely different down stretches this season, shedding 5 of their first six video games and now three of their previous 5. They’ve additionally skilled some highs, like beating the Packers, Bears, and Texans, however they’ve additionally hit some fairly murky factors.
After all, within the spirit of the vacation season, it’s vital to take a look at the intense facet of issues. Justin Jefferson has been the perfect rookie large receiver within the 2020 Draft class and can virtually assuredly obtain some votes for Rookie of the 12 months. Fellow wideout Adam Thielen has skilled a bounce-back season and appears to have made the top zone his second house. Maybe most noteworthy, operating again Dalvin Prepare dinner has not solely been wholesome nearly all of this season, he’s additionally dominated. Prepare dinner must be a frontrunner for Offensive Participant of the 12 months honors.
That stated, the Vikings have exhibited much more weaknesses than strengths throughout their 2020 marketing campaign. They’ve struggled to execute defensively in massive video games, permitting a mean of 29.5 factors to the six groups they’ve performed which might be presently in playoff positions. Dropping defensive finish Danielle Hunter, linebacker Anthony Barr, and cornerback Mike Hughes to season-ending accidents was a brutal triple-punch to the intestine. Now LB Erik Kendricks, arguably the chief of this defensive unit, has missed three consecutive video games with a calf damage, and cornerback Cameron Dantzler is “questionable” with a nagging foot ailment.
The opposite main concern Mike Zimmer’s squad has confronted has been its means to guard quarterback Kirk Cousins. The veteran has been sacked 34 occasions on an astounding 7.2 % of his go makes an attempt. Fixed stress has clearly affected his decision-making, as he has recurrently compelled passes and consequently ranks second in interceptions with 13. He’s additionally fumbled away the soccer 5 occasions on the season.
If Cousins had higher safety, there’s no telling what sort of numbers he would have put up (and what number of wins Minnesota would have). He has posted 3,569 passing yards and 29 TDs, however he has been haunted by sacks and QB hits all yr. In Minnesota’s eight losses, he has been sacked a complete of twenty-two occasions and thrown 11 picks. Tampa acquired to him six occasions two weeks in the past, and Chicago registered three sacks and a decide final week. This dude is beat up, and he now faces a Saints staff that ranks sixth within the NFL with 40 sacks and simply took reigning Tremendous Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes down 4 occasions final week.
Like Minnesota, the Saints want a win to interrupt their two-game shedding streak, however not like Minnesota, who barely have any probability of constructing the playoffs, New Orleans clinched a postseason berth weeks in the past. The Saints can cement their NFC South title this weekend with a win in opposition to the Vikings or with a Buccaneers loss to the Lions.
With Drew Brees another week into therapeutic his 11 rib fractures and punctured lung (which he sustained in Week 10 in opposition to San Francisco), it’s a superb guess that New Orleans will punch its personal ticket to the division championship and relaxation straightforward on the lengthy vacation weekend. Who Dat Nation would then have their sights on a bye within the first week of the playoffs.
Nearly as good as their report suggests they’re, the Saints have been largely carried by their dynamic protection within the second half of this season. Backup QB/TE/RB extraordinaire Taysom Hill led New Orleans to 3 wins after the Brees damage, however the go recreation mainly took a backseat on the precedence record. In Week 14, Hill acquired outdueled at his personal RPO recreation by cell rookie QB Jalen Hurts and the Eagles. In Week 15, Brees and his large receiver corps struggled to seek out connections within the first half.
Coach Sean Payton and offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael ought to have their staff extra ready to go in opposition to the injury-ravaged Vikings. Minnesota hovers across the bottom-third within the NFL in factors allowed, complete yards surrendered, speeding yards allowed, and all passing classes.
Defensive coordinator Dennis Allen’s unit ought to proceed its torrid assault of the soccer, and its entrance seven ought to eat properly this Christmas. The Saints rank sixth within the league in sacks with 40 and coincidentally additionally rank sixth within the league in factors allowed. They offer up the third-fewest complete yards and have the fifth-most takeaways. No staff has allowed fewer speeding TDs.
Veteran defensive finish Trey Hendrickson has emerged as a star this season, tied for second within the NFL with 12.5 sacks. Cameron Jordan, who was simply named to the Professional Bowl, has 6.5 sacks of his personal. The tandem has mixed for 22 tackles for loss and 39 QB hits. They lead the road, whereas Demario Davis (106 tackles/65 solo/4 sacks/10 TFL/10 QB hits) runs the linebackers. The addition of Malcolm Jenkins and re-signing of Janoris Jenkins to the secondary has boded properly for everyone, lessening the load for Professional Bowl cornerback Marshon Lattimore.
The Saints are an elite staff designed for a Tremendous Bowl run, so realistically the Vikings are only a blip on their radar. Count on Payton and his teaching workers to deal with this as a playoff recreation and have a jolly Christmas full of a plethora of factors.
The Vikings have been surprisingly good at third-down and red-zone protection this season, however they seem too banged as much as maintain a candle to this Saints offense in a key recreation in New Orleans. I feel this one may be over by halftime, and I’m all in on the Saints’ moneyline (-310) and the unfold (-7).
The BetQL Greatest Wager Mannequin agrees, placing two stars on the unfold and 4 stars on the moneyline. The Mannequin additionally loves the OVER on this one, projecting the whole to be nearer to 54 factors than the listed variety of 51. So far as first-half bets go, the Mannequin places two stars on the Saints -4 at halftime and one other two stars on the OVER on the break (26). It’s additionally everywhere in the first-half moneyline, placing a four-star confidence ranking on New Orleans -245. I’ll take the Saints to clinch their division on Christmas, profitable massive 33-26.
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