Double Bets stay perfect on the season with the New York Jets and Minnesota Vikings going over 47 last Sunday. A half stake did not come through on the New York Giants who left the result 1-1 +1.50x after Week 7. My overall record this NFL season is now 6-3 +5.82x.
I have written about compounding perception presenting value many times this season. In short, when a team overachieves for an extended period of time, the success carries over despite matchups. The Minnesota Vikings are a perfect example.
In 2017, Minnesota had a phenomenal season which took them to the NFC Championship game. This season, they are 4-2, and much of the market makes this success as an extension of last year. Looking closer, there are some extreme differences.
The offensive line of Minnesota is a huge liability.
Minnesota grades out as the 27th rated pass blocking team in the league and the 28th rated run blocking team in the league. Collectively, they rank 28th in adjusted line yards (3.67). Kirk Cousins has been pressured on 133 drop backs (2nd most) and has been sacked 19 times (6th most). To pile on and make matters worse, Tom Compton – their highest rated offensive lineman through Week 7 – sprained his MCL in the game against the Jets and is listed as questionable for the game against New Orleans.
New Orleans does not generate a lot of pressure; however, they are great at defending the rush and making teams one dimensional. The Saints hold opposing offensive lines to just 3.17 adjusted line yards, running backs to 2.75 yards per carry and tackle the running back at the line of scrimmage or behind on 27% of all rushes (3rd highest in the NFL). It has not been challenging to make Minnesota one dimensional this season. The Vikings pass the ball 68% of the time which ranks 2nd in the NFL.
The Vikings certainly have an advantage in the passing game against the New Orleans secondary – as do they against any secondary in the NFL. The elite receiving duo of Thielen and Diggs creates matchup issues for any secondary. The question becomes, how long can this offensive line hold up, especially when it is less than 100% healthy?
Sean Payton is without question one of the best coaches in the league.
However, it is his ability to game plan that continues to reach all-time levels. The variety of plans he can lay out and lead his team to execute is fascinating. Last week he went into Baltimore and beat the Ravens at their own game running the ball 39 times for 134 yards and manoeuvring through drives of 20, 12, 12 and 10 plays. Just one game prior it was the opposite with the passing offense going for 11.4 yards per pass and a 65% success rate in 32 plays.
Against the Vikings, Payton once again is going to be able to limit the one advantage Minnesota has (passing) through the Saints strength on offense.
The Vikings are quietly having an extremely poor season on defense. Entering Week 8, they rank 20th in defensive efficiency which is a massive step down for them. There are injury concerns aplenty in the secondary and overall performance is trending down despite facing opposing offenses that rank 24th, 32nd, 22nd, 30th and 27th this season in efficiency.
In the two games where they faced Top 10 opponents, they allowed 29 points to the Packers and 38 points to the Rams. What stands out to me in both games is the success opponents had on the ground. The Packers ran for a 58% success rate on 24 rushes, and 4.1 yards per carry and the Rams gained 5.0 yards per carry on 20 rushes for a 70% success rate.
The Saints are successful on 51% of their rushes this season (6th in the NFL) and should be more than capable of slowing the game down, relying on their offensive line and leading long drives to punish the lack of depth on the Minnesota defense.
The Vikings have been great at getting teams off the field on third down, but no coach has been more aggressive than Payton at going for it on fourth down this season. I expect him to establish the aggression in the play calling early, earn control of the game and grind out the victory a few yards at a time.
This is a game that the Saints will win in a very different fashion than many will expect. Getting PK at 1.95 is a great price.
- New Orleans Saints PK (1.95) risking 1.05x
On this week’s NFL Podcast Nat Coombs is joined by Mike Carlson, Brad Allen, Matchbook’s duo of Aidan ‘Sully’ O’Sullivan and Jesse May to preview some of week 8’s key games. Nat and Sully almost come to blows also over the Amari Cooper trade. If you haven’t already subscribed, search for ‘Matchbook Betting Podcast’ on your preferred podcasting app.