Minnesota Vikings vs. New Orleans Saints Prediction, Pick & Spread

The Minnesota Vikings (1-1) fly to New Orleans to play the Saints (0-2) in a 1:00 PM EST matchup this Sunday.  The Vikings have made headlines for all the wrong reasons so far this season, and will head into the game without start running back Adrian Peterson, who is beginning an indefinite suspension after being charged with several offenses related to physical abuse of a child.

Given Peterson was one of the few effective weapons in a weak Viking offense, his absence means the Saints defense will be able to focus more on multi-talented wide receiver Cordarelle Patterson, who is a danger to score via the pass, on the ground and on kickoffs.  Minnesota will seek to establish the run with Matt Asiata, who is more of a straight forward, bruising back who likes to run between the lines.  Productive efforts by TE Kyle Rudolph and WR Greg Jennings will give QB Matt Cassel some options as he looks to free Patterson to make some big plays.  A stronger offensive line would help, as Cassel has been sacked six times in the first two games.  Better judgement from Cassel, who has thrown four interceptions, is also needed.

The Vikings will be facing a Saints team who comes into their home opener in an ornery mood following two last- second losses against Atlanta and Cleveland to start the season.  New Orleans is also without their starting running back, though for more conventional reasons, as Mark Ingram is set to miss the next month with a broken hand.  Most of the carries should fall to Khiry Robinson, though Pierre Thomas should also see increased activity.

Regardless of whether or not the run is established Saints QB Drew Brees will look to air it out to stud receivers Jimmy Graham and Marques Colston.  Tight end Graham has amassed 200 yards receiving  and a pair of scores through the first two games.  The Saints are so deep on offense that Colston didn’t even catch a ball in week two, as Brees looked toward rookie Brandin Cooks and the veteran Thomas.  Further down the depth chart sit Kenny Stills and Robert Meachem, both of whom have big play ability.

The Saints will look to tighten up a pass defense which was torched for 448 yards by Matt Ryan in the first week (an Atlanta record) and which emboldened a much weaker Cleveland team that still chose to throw 40 times in Week 2.

The Viking defense has been pretty good overall, as they dominated a St. Louis Rams squad that was missing start QB Sam Bradford in Week One, before holding Pats pivot Tom Brady to 149 yards in Week Two but falling victim to a short field thanks to four Cassel interceptions.

Whatever the spread is, pick the Saints to beat it in what should be a win by double digits.