Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 12:40 PM EST.
8:00 PM. Their uniforms are ugly. The quarterback isn't much to look at and you know what they say about the weather in Minneapolis, but while they don't look sexy on paper or in person, the Vikings appear to be a decent pick in Week 1. We'll limit our expectations for this team to a week to week basis, as we are not nearly as bullish as some on their status as a Super Bowl sleeper. Their backfield has gone over a major overhaul with the departure of Adrian Peterson, the one-time face of the franchise. He's been replaced by former Raider Latavius Murray but all eyes will be on rookie runner Dalvin Cook, the Florida State standout from a season ago. The strength of this team will again be a defense that finished in the top-10 in DOVA in 2016. It's a unit made up of players that are either in their prime or are going to be soon. The only elder statesman is Terrance Newman, who is still contributing at 39. A great defense can still create misery for the best offenses in today's NFL and the Vikings will have a chance to prove that here.
Minnesota is typically fast out of the gate before their annual drop-off in November. That’s a good trait to begin with but that’s even close to being the main reason for this choice. We’re always looking for other reasons to get behind a team and Adrian Peterson provided us another one here to fade the Saints. Peterson, who is now a Saint, couldn’t help himself, when he claimed that he can’t wait to “stick it to the Vikings”. Firing up a superior opponent by opening up your cake-hole is about the worst thing a player can do. That’s locker room material right there.
At this point, you know what you're getting with the Saints. A high powered offense that typically plays better indoors at the Super Dome and they generally struggle on the road. The Saints have followed that same formula for nearly all of the Sean Payton, Dree Bree era. Sporting a top rated offense but unable to stop anybody when it matters, New Orleans has to play near flawless football if the other team doesn’t make foolish mistakes. Since 2014, only one team with a top five offense has missed the playoffs and that was the Saints. Not much is likely to change, as New Orleans will send out one of the youngest secondaries in the league with an average age of just 23 years. Covering a division full of elite receivers is a lot to ask of a young and unproven group. Another thing working against the Saints' defensive backs is the team's increased commitment to blitz which began last season. In 2015 New Orleans sent five or more pass rushers just 26.8% of the time but that number was way up last season at 41.6%. The Saints have tried everything to improve their defense over the years but it hasn't worked yet. That change in blitzing schemes moved them from last in the league in yards per pass allowed in 2015 (7.9) to 23rd (7.3) last year, a marginal improvement at best. This D-unit was also very fortunate in 2016 after recovering 12 out of 15 opposing teams fumbles but as we've discussed before, turnovers are not a skill based stat and the pendulum can come swinging back the other way just as hard. We can understand that taking points with the high powered New Orleans offense might be appealing but this isn't fantasy football. New Until we see otherwise, we must play the Saints for what we know they are and that's a team that is beatable on its best day and that doesn't typically play its best football on the road.
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MINNESOTA -3 -108 (Risking 2.16 units - To Win: 2.00)