The Minnesota Vikings (10-6) travel to Louisiana this weekend to battle the New Orleans Saints (13-3) in the first of two Sunday afternoon NFC Wild Card showdowns. Kickoff is set for 1:05 PM EST on January 5th at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and the game will be nationally televised on FOX.

Oddsmakers opened this game up with the Saints listed as 8-point home favorites. The spread has shifted down by half a point after early betting, as New Orleans is currently available at -7.5. The total for this matchup is 49.5 points.

Saints vs Vikings Game Odds & Betting Preview

Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings lost back to back games to finish the regular season, falling 21-19 at home against Chicago their last time out to wind up 10-6 overall. Minnesota didn’t play many starters on both sides of the ball in what was a meaningless game in the NFC North standings after Green Bay had locked up the division crown in Week 16. Backup QB Sean Mannion got the start against the Bears, going 12/21 for 126 yards through the air but also getting picked off twice as well. RB Mike Boone had a very impressive game on the ground, rumbling for 148 rushing yards and a touchdown. As a whole, the Vikings offense averaged 25 points and just over 350 total yards of offense this year.

Minnesota was slightly above average defensively this year, surrendering 19 points and almost 350 total yards of offense per outing. The Vikings really limited the damage done by opposing offenses on the ground, yielding an average of just 108 rushing yards on a weekly basis through their first 16 games.

New Orleans Saints

The Saints have now won three straight games after crushing Carolina 42-10 on the road last weekend. New Orleans jumped out to an early 14-0 lead and never looked back, giving up just a single touchdown over the final two quarters of the game. QB Drew Brees went 19/30 for 253 passing yards and three touchdowns through the air while RB Alvin Kamara found the end zone twice on the ground despite rushing for only 39 yards. Overall, the Saints offense averaged 29 points and nearly 375 total yards per game during the regular season.

New Orleans was pretty solid on the other side of the ball during the regular season, giving up an average of 21 points points and 332 total yards of offense per game. The Saints were dominant against the run, holding their opponents to just 91 yards per outing on the ground.

Free NFL Betting Predictions and Pick: OVER 49.5

Even though I am at least somewhat tempted by laying the 7.5 points and rolling with the home favorite in this NFC Wild Card clash, my favorite play from this matchup is the OVER on 49.5 total points scored. While I do think that New Orleans should find a way to win this game outright with relative ease, I hate the idea of laying the extra half a point on Sunday afternoon. Minnesota could easily find a way to stay withing one possession all game long, especially with star RB Dalvin Cook rumored to finally be back close to 100% health.

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It is important to note that these two NFC rivals have been involved in plenty of high-scoring battles against each other in recent years, as the total has now gone OVER in eight out of their last eleven meetings. The OVER has also come through in six out of Minnesota’s last eight outings overall and in each of their last five road games as well. On the other side, the OVER has now hit in five out of New Orleans’ last seven games overall. Finally, the OVER has also occurred in four out of the Saints last five games against NFC opponents. I’ll avoid throwing darts against a pretty accurate looking spread in favor of the OVER on 49.5 total points scored in what should be a highly entertaining opening game on the final day of Wild Card Weekend.