New Orleans Saints (0-0) at Minnesota Vikings (0-0)
This line favors the hometown Vikings by a field goal, suggesting these two teams are more or less equal. I have the Saints with two fewer wins than the Vikings in my season preview (10 vs. 8) and I have the Saints a few spots below the Vikings in my rankings, so I think we’re getting some line value with the home team. The Vikings finished last season 8-8, but improved both their offensive line and their running game in significant ways this off-season and should have better injury luck than last season. Those two things should add a couple wins to their total if Sam Bradford can have another solid season under center.
The Saints, meanwhile, traded away one of their top offensive players Brandin Cooks this off-season for a first round pick, which they eventually used on offensive tackle Ryan Ramcyzk, who will have to make the week 1 start in place of left tackle Terron Armstead, who is also one of the Saints’ best offensive players and will miss the start of the season after off-season shoulder surgery. In addition, they are without wide receiver Willie Snead for the first 3 games of the season with suspension, cornerback Delvin Breaux for the first half of the season with injury, and defensive tackle Nick Fairley for the season with a career threatening heart condition.
They finished last season 10th in first down rate differential despite a 7-9 record, but are not the same team as last season and could get a lot of worse if quarterback Drew Brees shows his age in his age 38 season. There isn’t enough here for me to put money on the Vikings as field goal favorites, especially since they are a heavy public lean this week for some reason, but they should be the right side. I think there’s also a strong possibility of a push in this game, especially if Brees leads a garbage time touchdown down 10 late in the 4th quarter.
Minnesota Vikings 27 New Orleans Saints 23
Pick against the spread: Minnesota -3