Today's Free Picks for
Posted Friday at 2:15 PM EST.
4:40 PM EST. This week, former All-Pro linebacker and all-around-good-guy, Ray Lewis gave some great insight into this game, summing it up succinctly that Drew Brees is "better" than Case Keenum. That's the kind of insight you can only get after a 13-year Hall of Fame career. You see, Lewis, like the other former players parading around as pundits, can say anything they want with no accountability, which is an area Lewis specializes in. In this case, we thank Ray-Ray for his thoughts because they fall in line with many of the talking heads out there, and those voices have an influence in the market. The same pundits that are praising Brees' performance last Sunday against Carolina, are the same ones that said the Saints no longer needed to rely on the passing game to win. Brees' 376 passing yards against the highly regarded Panther defense no doubt looks impressive, but if you watched that game, you know the Panthers dominated the contest in every area except for the one that matters. The Saints lost the time of possession battle, had fewer first downs, and were out-gained by the Panthers. The Saints didn’t just lose the time of possession battle, they got annihilated, 38 minutes to 22 minutes.
What do the Vikings have to do to get some respect in the market? While the perception is the Saints hold the advantage at QB, the reality is (and the numbers under the hood support it) Case Keenum was Brees' superior this season. Keenum finished 2017 as the #1 DVOA quarterback, and he finished third in QBR to Brees' 11th, which is significant because QBR factors in a pivots importance to helping his team win. Keenum not only did more with less, but he is more valuable to his team than Brees is to the Saints. On the defensive end, the Vikes Weighted Defensive rank was first in the league. That measure values the games played later in the season higher, to better reflect a teams' current form.
How many times this week have you heard, "Drew Brees loves playing in a Dome?" While the friendly confines of the Superdome have treated the Saints well this season, this team hasn't won a game on the road since Week 10 in Buffalo, and that includes a trip to Atlanta where the Saints fell to the Falcons, wait for it, in a dome. In its only other dome roadie this season, New Orleans was on the wrong end of a 29-19 loss in Minneapolis when Sam Bradford was still the QB. There is no doubt that this version of the Vikings is better than the one that took the field in Week 1, which is a scary proposition for a Saints defense that was torched for 460 yards. Just because Brees likes to play in a dome, doesn't mean the rest of his teammates have the same affinity for the field turf. This game is Minny's to win, and a blowout is not out of the question, as many expect this to be the 'best' game of the weekend. When the markets zigs, we usually prefer to zag. We're betting this one gets ugly and not just because the Vikings wear purple. The reality is that the Saints got extremely lucky last week in New Orleans against a vastly inferior opponent than the Vikings.
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MINNESOTA -5 -106 (Risking 2.12 units - To Win: 2.00)