Christmas Day Football Picks And Predictions: Vikings At Saints

Posted By Juan Carlos Blanco on December 23, 2020 - Last Updated on December 24, 2020

Welcome to the Christmas Day betting breakdown, where I’ll provide a detailed betting overview of the upcoming Christmas Day game utilizing moneyline, points spread and projected total odds from DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook. I’ll also highlight at least one player- or game-based prop that I feel has profit potential.

The Minnesota Vikings and New Orleans Saints will face off at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Christmas Day, Friday, Dec. 25. The game will mark the 36th meeting in a series the Vikings lead 23-12. The most recent game between the teams was a memorable NFC Wild Card matchup in January of this year, a contest the Vikings won, 26-20, in overtime.

The Vikings fell to the Chicago Bears, 33-27, in Week 15, a loss that further endangers their already thin playoff chances. Minnesota now sits at 6-8 and will need to win out and get some help to get into the postseason. Meanwhile, the Saints dropped their second consecutive game with a 32-29 defeat at the hands of the Chiefs, but New Orleans still has a chance at the No. 1 seed in the conference and welcomed Drew Brees back from injury in Week 15.

All betting takes will be classified as a “pick” or “lean”, with considerations such as relevant injuries, past betting trends and recent performances of each team leading up to the game factoring in.

Moneyline

Brees has had a game to work off rust from his month-plus absence due to serious rib and lung injuries, and that one contest against a suffocating Chiefs secondary proved to be a mostly rough landing. Nevertheless, it likely helped the future Hall of Famer knock off plenty of rust, much to the Vikings’ chagrin. Meanwhile, the Saints defense looked more vulnerable than usual in the contest, but that’s naturally a byproduct of facing Patrick Mahomes and his offensive arsenal.

The Vikings offense has three particularly impressive skill players in Dalvin Cook, Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson. However, Kirk Cousins certainly isn’t Mahomes, and there’s no Travis Kelce on this squad either. A Saints defense allowing the third-fewest total yards per game (306.4), including the fifth-fewest passing yards (210.9) and fourth fewest rushing yards (95.6) per contest, therefore presents a tall order and arguably has a talent advantage. Furthermore, the unit has also proven highly adept at forcing turnovers, recording 13 INTs and eight fumble recoveries. That’s especially troubling for Cousins, who’s already tied a career high with 13 interceptions and lost five fumbles as well. The matchup between the big hosses up front also tilts toward the home squad when it comes to pass protection – Minnesota has allowed 34 sacks, while the Saints have notched 40 QB takedowns.

One way to help protect Cousins would be to give Cook a hefty workload and keep the pass rush on its heels a bit. Despite the Saints’ elite numbers versus the run, Cook has overcome difficult matchups against the Buccaneers and Bears in the last two games to record a combined 234 rushing yards and a pair of touchdowns. Additionally, the Vikings’ O-line has been much better at clearing running lanes – they’ve helped facilitate the most adjusted line yards (4.97) and fifth-most RB yards (4.87) per carry.

On the other side of the ball, the underperforming Minnesota secondary is allowing 252.4 passing yards per game and 7.3 yards per attempt, and the Vikes have also surrendered 27 touchdown passes. Brees will remain without Michael Thomas (ankle) for the last two regular-season games, but he still has weapons such as Emmanuel Sanders, Jared Cook and Alvin Kamara at his disposal, not to mention jack-of-all-trades Taysom Hill. Tre’Quan Smith did sustain an ankle injury versus the Chiefs and didn’t practice Tuesday, but even if he’s sidelined Friday, New Orleans did designate fellow wideout Marquez Calloway (knee) for a return from IR and he could suit up versus Minnesota.

It also shouldn’t be overly challenging for the Saints to maintain offensive balance in this game.  The Vikes have allowed 125.6 rushing yards per game, including 143.3 over the last three contests. Minnesota also gives up 4.87 adjusted line yards per game and 4.41 RB yards per carry, helping lead to a bottom-half-of-the-league No. 20 ranking in rush defense DVOA. New Orleans’ offensive line boasts a No. 7 ranking in adjusted line yards per carry facilitated (4.67), so on paper, it could be a winning proposition for the home team to establish and stick with the ground game.

The Vikings have enough talent and motivation to keep this reasonably close, but I ultimately envision the Saints pulling away for a win against a team that’s given up the second-most second-half points per game (15.5) in the league.

The Pick: Saints moneyline (-300 or better)

Christmas Day Point Spread

The Vikings are 6-8 (42.9 percent) against the spread this season, including 4-2 (66.7 percent) as a road team and 4-6 (40.0 percent) in conference games.

The Saints are 7-7 against the spread this season, including 3-4 (42.9 percent) as a home team and 6-4 (40.0 percent) in conference games.

While I like the Saints to pull out the win, the absence of Thomas and Brees perhaps still working his way into the swing of things could help lead to a tight game. I also see the Vikings being desperate enough in their likely last chance to stay alive for a playoff spot to play some of their best ball. It’s also worth noting Minnesota’s net ATS +/- of +2.1 on the road and its track record overall against the spread when traveling when considering the possibility of the Vikes sliding in under this number.

The Lean: Vikings +7 or better

Christmas Day Over/Under Total

The Over is 9-5 (64.3 percent) in Minnesota’s games this season, including 2-4 (33.3 percent) in its away games and 7-3 (70.0 percent) against NFC opponents.

Then, the Over is 9-5 (64.3 percent) in New Orleans’ games this season, including 5-2 (71.4 percent) in its home games and 6-4 (60.0 percent) in its division games.

While the Saints can often have a lockdown defense, they do allow 23.6 points per home game while averaging a hefty 28.7 per contest at the Superdome. I see enough talent on both offenses to contribute to the Over here, while a New Orleans forced turnover that’s taken back to the house or creates a short field certainly isn’t out of the question either.

The Pick: Over 51.0 points or better

Best Christmas Day Prop Bets

Irv Smith, Jr. Over 3.5 receptions (+160 or better)

The Saints have been tough against perimeter receivers, helping lead to New Orleans facing the third-most tight end targets (111) in the NFL and allowing 4.6 receptions per contest to the position. Smith’s position mate Kyle Rudolph (foot) will be out once again Friday, and Smith has averaged exactly 3.5 receptions over the last two contests without the veteran on the field. While this prop will likely involve a sweat – Smith has yet to see more than five targets in any game this season and has started to see some competition from Tyler Conklin – I think it’s worth a flier at plus money in a game where the Vikes may have to eventually go pass heavy.

OTHER PROP BET TO CONSIDER:

Alvin Kamara Under 45.5 Receiving Yards (+110 or better)

Vikings allowing just 31.9 receiving yards per game to RBs, while Kamara has been under 45 receiving yards in five consecutive games.

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Juan Carlos Blanco

Juan Carlos Blanco has served as a freelance writer for a wide variety of online publications and websites, with an intensive focus on fantasy sports and sports betting. Juan has provided analysis and comprehensive coverage of the MLB, NBA, NFL and CFL, while also reporting on news and developments in the daily fantasy sports, online gaming and sports betting industries.

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