Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#251 Minnesota Vikings vs.
#252 New Orleans Saints
Sunday, October 2, 2022 at 9:30am EDT
Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans
Written by Mark Ruelle

The 2-1 Minnesota Vikings and the 1-2 New Orleans Saints head overseas to take part in the NFL's annual pilgrimage to London. The Vikings bounced back from a drubbing in Philly with a come-from-behind win over the Lions on Sunday. The Saints have now dropped two straight games after squeaking out an opening-day win over Atlanta to kick off the season. On Sunday, the Saints fell 22-14 at Carolina. The kickoff for this NFC clash is scheduled for 9:30am EST.

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Coffee with the Saints

The Minnesota Vikings improved to 2-1 on Sunday with a 28-24 win over the hard-luck Detroit Lions. The Vikings proved resilient on Sunday after the Lions defense spent the afternoon double-teaming Kirk Cousins favorite target, Justin Jefferson. Jefferson would finish the day with just three catches for 14 yards. Cousins, who was 24-41 for 260 yards and a touchdown, had to look at his secondary receivers all afternoon. Adam Thielen and K.J. Osborn combined for 11 catches, 134 yards and two touchdowns. Osborn's 28-yard touchdown grab with 45 seconds left was the difference maker.

"That's something that's expected of every single one of us. All of us are playmakers. All of us have that talent to really win in this league," said Justin Jefferson to ESPN.

Minnesota was just 2-of-9 on third down conversions on the day and was out-gained overall by Detroit 416-373. The turnover differential was even as the Lions threw one interception while the Vikings lost a fumble. The Vikings' defense held the Lions to just 3-of-16 on third down conversions but the always aggressive Lions did convert on 4-of-6 fourth down conversions. The Vikings' defense did not record a sack and had four tackles for loss in the win.

The Vikings are hoping to become the first NFL team to go 3-0 in London with a win on Sunday morning. Here's a look at the Vikings by the numbers so far this season. They are 16th in scoring offense and 19th in total offense. Minnesota is 19th in rushing offense and 15th in passing defense through three weeks. On the defensive side of the ball, Minnesota is 10th in scoring defense but just 31st in total defense. They are 24th against the run and 29th against the pass. Minnesota sits 13th in turnover differential.

Key Injuries: Outside linebacker Za'Darius Smith (knee) and cornerback Andrew Booth, Jr., (quadriceps) did not participate in Thursday's practice but Dalvin Cook (shoulder), fullback C.J. Ham (foot), linebacker Eric Kendricks (toe) and safety Harrison Smith (concussion) are all back and active prior to Sunday's game.

 

Hurting in London

The New Orleans Saints flew to London banged up and under .500 after a tough, physical affair in Carolina on Sunday afternoon. Quarterback Jameis Winston completed 25-of-41 passes for 353 yards and a touchdown but threw two more interceptions as he continues to struggle with an old nemesis, the turnover. Rookie WR Chris Olave had a breakout game with nine catches for 147 yards but the Saints were beset by a number of injuries in the 22-14 loss including losing receivers Michael Thomas, Jarvis Landry and Tre'Quan Smith to injuries in the second half.

“I just think we’ve got to be better early on in the game," Saints coach Dennis Allen told ESPN after the game. “We’ve got to execute better. Certainly that starts with us as a coaching staff. We’ve got to put a good plan together and give our guys a chance to be successful.”

The Saints scored all their points in the fourth quarter after trailing by 13 points entering the final 15 minutes. New Orleans had 426 yards of total offense, thoroughly out-producing the Panthers, who had just 293 yards. They also had 19 first downs compared with just 13 for the Panthers. Penalties, special teams and turnovers did the Saints in as they finished with seven penalties, three turnovers and had a kick blocked in the disheartening loss.

Like the Vikings, the Saints are also 2-0 in games played in London thus far so something has to give on Sunday. Here are the Saints by the numbers this season on both sides of the ball. Offensively, the Saints are ranked 22nd in scoring offense and 8th in total offense. They are 16th rushing the ball and 8th throwing it. On the defensive side of things, New Orleans is ranked 18th in scoring defense and 12th in total defense. Against the run, the Saints are ranked 26th while they are ranked fifth against the pass.

Key Injuries: WR Michael Thomas (foot) has already been ruled out and QB Winston (back) is not expected to play either in this matchup. WR Landry (ankle) didn't practice midweek and may very well be a game-time decision. Andy Dalton is expected to start for Winston in this game.

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The Vikings offense may have taken a great turn against the Lions as they proved to be effective even if a team takes away Jefferson. I expect that the Saints will line up All-Pro corner Marshon Lattimore on Jefferson on Sunday morning and leave a safety over the top. Cousins proved on Sunday that he can comfortably work the other side of the field with Thielen and Osborn and he also will now have a much healthier Cook out of the backfield and can utilize his tight end, Irv Smith Jr. The Vikings are also much healthier on the defensive side of the ball with Kendricks and Harrison Smith ready to go. The Saints, meanwhile, come into this matchup as banged up as any team in the NFL, particularly in key spots. Veteran journeyman Andy Dalton will likely take the helm at QB which might result in less turnovers but also will mean a much more methodical approach to the offense as Dalton has historically been more comfortable as a check-down quarterback. Dalton will have far less to work with as Thomas will be out and Landry could be out as well. Expect the Vikings to shift much of their attention Olave. The Saints will have to counter with their ground attack and likely a series of plays designed for Taysom Hill. I expect the Vikings to play up and force Dalton to take shots down the field. The Vikings will thrive in this matchup.

Lay the points and take the Vikings.

Prediction: Vikings -2.5

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This total has already dropped a half point and may drop a bit more by game time as it becomes more and more apparent that it will be Dalton and not Winston. By no means am I underestimating Dalton as a capable NFL quarterback, in fact, he may be the safer option for New Orleans at the moment after a slew of interceptions by Winston the last few weeks. However, with Dalton comes a different approach to offense. Much more methodical drives and short passes will consume the clock. Minnesota will likely lay back at first and keep the ball in front of them unless they fall behind. I don't expect the Vikings to fall behind in this one, however, and I think their offense will put up some scores and force Dalton to take shots that he will be unable to deliver on. Jump on this line as it may get closer to 40 by game time.

Take the under, 43.5 points.

Prediction: Under 43.5
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Written By Mark Ruelle , "Mark Ruelle"

Mark has been a sports fanatic since childhood. He is also an avid follower of sports analytics and has used it in his own betting analysis for over two decades. Now we have Mark on our team here at Stat Salt. He holds degrees in marketing, broadcasting, and English and uses this vast array of assets to dissect and analyze game matchups. Mark will provide you with a wide variety of statistics to consider and a strong opinion in each matchup that he covers. Please follow him daily for an up-to-the-minute analysis of all the important games.