New Orleans (0-0) at Minnesota (0-0)
When: Monday, September 11th 2017
Where: U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN
Time: 7:10 ET | TV: ESPN
Opening Odds: Minnesota -3.5/48.5
Adrian Peterson brings his new team to his old stadium as the New Orleans Saints visit the Minnesota Vikings in the first of two Monday Night Football games in Week 1. Peterson was the focal point of the Vikings offense for 10 years, but the plan of attack in New Orleans likely will go through quarterback Drew Brees (NFL-best 5,208 passing yards in 2016). The future Hall of Fame QB will look to keep New Orleans’ top-ranked total offense (426.0 yards per game) in gear with second-year wideout Michael Thomas aiming to take the next step in the wake of the offseason departure of Brandin Cooks (New England). Minnesota’s defense, who ranked third in the league last season in yards allowed per game (314.9), boasts five Pro Bowl selections from a team that was 7-9 last year. That stout defense allowed them to have a +11 turnover ratio in 2016 while the Saints were -3.
Peterson likely will take a complementary role with third-round rookie Alvin Kamara joining incumbent starter Mark Ingram, who is coming off career highs in rushing yards (1,043), scrimmage yards (1,362) and total touchdowns (10). New Orleans WR Willie Snead will serve the first of his three-game suspension following an offseason DWI arrest. While the offense rarely is an issue with Brees in control, New Orleans’ defense has languished near the bottom of the NFL for the last three seasons – including a 31st rank in points allowed in 2016. Cameron Jordan (team-leading 7.5 sacks) and linebacker Craig Robertson (club-best 114 tackles) led the defense last year and rookie cornerback Marshon Lattimore is hoping to improve the NFL’s worst pass defense.
Sam Bradford benefited from a short-yardage passing game to set an NFL record for completion percentage last season (71.6), mainly because the Vikings simply can not run the football. Minnesota addressed the running game by selecting Florida State’s dynamic tailback Dalvin Cook in the second round of the 2017 draft and acquiring Latavius Murray in the offseason, shortly after Peterson went south. Stefon Diggs (team-leading 84 receptions) and Adam Thielen (career-high 967 receiving yards) serve as Bradford’s top two wide receivers, while Kyle Rudolph’s 83 catches in 2016 were the most by a tight end in franchise history. Minnesota DE Danielle Hunter recorded 12.5 sacks, which ranked tied for third last season in the NFL.
I can see Brees and the Saints offense struggling early against this tough Vikings defense, but they’ll make the proper adjustments and start raking up the points in the second half. New Orleans has been very good on the road recently with a 9-1 ATS record in their last 10, while the Vikings have only covered 2 of their last 9 home openers. I’ll take the points and the better offense.
Pick: Saints +3
- Saints are 9-1 ATS in their last 10 road games.
- Saints are 8-2 ATS in their last 10 vs. NFC.
- Saints are 10-3 ATS in their last 13 games overall.
- Saints are 5-2 ATS in their last 7 games on fieldturf.
- Saints are 2-5 ATS in their last 7 games in September.
- Saints are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 Monday games.
- Saints are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games in Week 1.
- Vikings are 5-0 ATS in their last 5 games in September.
- Vikings are 20-6 ATS in their last 26 games on fieldturf.
- Vikings are 22-7 ATS in their last 29 home games.
- Vikings are 38-17 ATS in their last 55 games overall.
- Vikings are 1-8 ATS in their last 9 Monday games.
- Over is 5-1 in Saints last 6 games in Week 1.
- Over is 8-3 in Saints last 11 games in September.
- Over is 11-5 in Saints last 16 games on fieldturf.
- Over is 11-5 in Saints last 16 Monday games.
- Under is 4-0 in Vikings last 4 Monday games.
- Under is 5-1 in Vikings last 6 games in September.
- Under is 10-4 in Vikings last 14 vs. NFC.
- Under is 7-3 in Vikings last 10 games on fieldturf.
- Over is 4-0-1 in the last 5 meetings in Minnesota.
- Over is 6-2 in the last 8 meetings.
- Favorite is 5-2 ATS in their last 7 meetings.