NFL 2018 Season - Week 14
 

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Public Loves Offense
by Dennis Ranahan

The last time the New Orleans Saints visited the Vikings in Minnesota they were ready to celebrate a playoff win when their victory party was upended by an improbable last play of the game 61-yard touchdown reception by Stefon Diggs. The dramatic postseason play vaulted the Vikings to the NFC Championship Game and sent the Saints back to the Big Easy.

Don’t you know the Saints are looking for revenge for that playoff loss tonight when they visit the Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium.

But, before you run out to bet on New Orleans as a road favorite tonight, know this, a team on a five game winning streak, like the Saints, seldom capitalize on a revenge spot. And, if revenge does not decide this game tonight, then talent will decide the issue.

Both the Saints and Vikings got off to rocky starts this season. New Orleans lost their opener at home to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 48-40, and needed late game heroics in second week action to overcome the Cleveland Browns, 21-18. Those two contests seemed to have gotten the attention of Sean Payton’s team as they have rolled to four straight wins and point spread covers over the Atlanta Falcons, New York Giants, Washington Redskins and Baltimore Ravens.

The Vikings won their opening game, 24-16, over the visiting San Francisco 49ers and then ended their first game of the season against NFC North Division rival Green Bay in a tie, 29-29. They were upset the following Sunday at home as a 16½ point favorite by the Buffalo Bills, 27-6. The following Thursday, they were outplayed by the undefeated Los Angeles Rams and found themselves at the bottom of division standings that they were favored to win.

Like the Saints, the Vikings were able to turn the tables on a bad start with three straight victories over the Philadelphia Eagles, Arizona Cardinals and New York Jets.

Okay, wins over the Cardinals and Jets are not exactly the stuff to write home about, but after losing to the lowly Bills the wins nevertheless served to elevate Minnesota from the cellar in their division race to the top of the heap.

What that leaves us with tonight is a pair of very talented teams riding win streaks and leading their division races.

So, who gets the advantage in Minnesota tonight?

The Saints success is pinned to their explosive offensive directed by all-time career passing yardage leader Drew Brees. His ability to find the endzone is the primary reason the Saints are favored on the road tonight.

The betting public loves offense.

But, what distinguishes the Vikings is a rock solid defense that has not yet matched their play of a season ago but find themselves in a perfect motivational spot against the Saints high-powered offense.

Finally, the Saints come into this contest with a 5-1 mark and the Vikings have a 4-2-1 season won/loss/tie record. Which means this, if the Saints win on the road tonight they would advance their season mark to two games better than Minnesota. While if the Vikings grab the victory in this Sunday Night Football primetime telecast, they would pull even in the win and loss column with New Orleans.

Now, if the Vikings were favored in this game it would be a tougher call than it is with Minnesota a home underdog. With the public backing the offensive team, we get the better defensive squad at home getting points.

That makes it a solid point spread play.

Qoxhi Picks: Minnesota Vikings (+2) over New Orleans Saints