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2010 NFC Conference Championship Lines: Vikings Saints Free Predictions

NFL betting – NFC Championship – Vikings vs Saints Preview & Pick

As much as the Colts have to take the Jets seriously, I’m sure we can all agree that the Vikings/Saints game is the “heavyweight” battle of the weekend. Two great quarterbacks, two great offenses, two aggressive defenses, two teams comfortable playing indoors…sounds like fun.


Minnesota Vikings @New Orleans Saints

Sunday, January 24, 6:40 p.m. ET
Sportsbook favorite: Saints -3.5

We know what  we get with the New Orleans Saints: football’s most explosive offense. Few if any teams can hurt opponents in as many different ways as the Saints can. Drew Brees has been remarkably accurate, placing balls in receivers’ hands all over the field, and a different one of his targets seems to bust out every week. Sometimes it’s Marques Colston, unstoppable on jump balls; other times Robert Meachem or Devery Henderson or both get open for huge downfield gains. Even Jeremy Shockey chipped in with a touchdown last week. The Vikings’ pass defense, which allows a pedestrian 218.4 yards per game, has a tough challenge in the Superdome.

Much publicized this year was New Orleans’ increased commitment to the run, which made the offense that much more versatile and unpredictable. Pierre Thomas and Mike Bell led New Orleans to the No. 6 rushing attack in the NFL. With Bell banged up, Reggie Bush got back on the map last week. He carried five times for 84 yards and a breathtaking 46-yard touchdown run in which he made several defenders miss. The Vikings already had a lot of work to do in the film room this week just to prepare for Brees and the Saints’ power running game. Now they have to prepare for Bush on the outside? It’s almost unfair.

That said, the Vikings’ run defense should be up to the task. It ranked second in the NFL and features the league’s most unstoppable pair of tackles in Pat and Kevin Williams. More often than not, Minnesota’s front seven wins the battle against opposing rushers. That means the Saints will likely rely on their potent passing game. New Orleans’ O-line didn’t allow a sack last week but faces a much tougher challenge in the NFC Championship game, as Pro Bowler Jared Allen and the Vikes have the NFL’s leading pass rush.

After all this talk about New Orleans’ fantastic offense, we haven’t touched on Minnesota, which quietly ranked second to New Orleans in points scored this year. Ageless Brett Favre, who threw 33 touchdown passes and added four more last week, can put points on the board in a hurry. Young wideouts like Sidney Rice and Percy Harvin are just as explosive as the Saints’ receivers. A player to watch this week is Adrian Peterson. He’s supposedly football’s best running back but he sure hasn’t looked like it of late. He averaged just 2.4 yards per carry in Minnesota’s win over Dallas last week, hasn’t run for 100 yards since Week 10 and has just one run longer than 16 yards in his last eight games. He simply has to be better.

I think he will. The reason: the Saints’ run defense has struggled badly in the second half of the season. Even it its decisive win over Arizona last week, it let Tim Hightower rip off a 70-yard run. Minny will be tough to stop if Peterson and Chester Taylor have daylight. Also, though the Saints force plenty of turnovers, their pass defense has been just so-so.  It specializes in capitalizing on errant throws and Favre hasn’t made many this season.

There’s no denying that bettors have a tough choice this week – especially since the Louisiana Superdome may provide football’s biggest home-field advantage – but I like the Vikings. Their offense is almost as good as New  Orleans’ and they play better defense. Should be a close one.

Gambling Trends:

Minnesota is 8-1 SU in its last 9 games when playing New Orleans
Minnesota is 5-1 ATS in its last 6 games when playing New Orleans
The total has gone OVER in 4 of Minnesota’s last 5 games when playing New Orleans
The total has gone UNDER in 7 of Minnesota’s last 9 games
New Orleans is 14-3 SU in its last 17 games
The total has gone UNDER in 4 of New Orleans’s last 5 games
The total has gone UNDER in 4 of New Orleans’s last 5 games at home
The total has gone OVER in 4 of New Orleans’s last 5 games when playing Minnesota

Pick: Vikings +3.5

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Shea Matthews lives and breathes sports. He made the transition from athlete to sports journalist at a young age, writing in TV & national newspapers. He now applies his knowledge to sports betting and handicapping every day, and shares his winning picks with the world.


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