nola picks

Saints vs. Vikings Odds & Picks: NOLA Should Cover This Christmas Spread

Getty Images. Pictured: Kirk Cousins, Drew Brees

  • The New Orleans Saints host the Minnesota Vikings for a Christmas Day showdown.
  • With Drew Brees and Co. slated as 6.5-point favorites, where’s the betting value on this matchup?
  • Sean Koerner — our Director of Predictive Analytics — explains why it’s on New Orleans to cover the spread.

Saints vs. Vikings Odds

Vikings Odds +6.5 [BET NOW]
Saints Odds -6.5 [BET NOW]
Over/Under 50.5 [BET NOW]
Time 4:30 p.m. ET
Odds as of early Friday afternoon and via PointsBet, where you can bet $20 on the Saints to win $125 if they gain a yard.

Drew Brees was rusty in his return from breaking 11 ribs a month ago.

The Saints fell into an early 0-14 hole against the Chiefs last week, but managed to come back to lose only 32-29. We shouldn’t underestimate Brees’ motivation in what could be his last season — he was likely at the highest risk of re-injuring his ribs against the Chiefs, but that risk should decrease significantly as we go forward.

Working in his favor for this matchup is the fact that the Vikings generate the sixth-lowest pressure rate in the NFL, so Brees should feel much more comfortable in the pocket against Minnesota than he did against Kansas City.

I have the Saints projected as 7.5-point favorites, and I’m interested in backing them now that the market has lowered them to -6.5, exposing the key number of 7 (shop real-time lines here).

One key factor is the absence of Eric Kendricks, who owns the second-best grade (82.6) among linebackers according to Pro Football Focus and whose absence will only enhance the outlooks Brees and Alvin Kamara.

Week 16 means that we also have to factor in motivation: The Saints are looking to lock up the NFC South while the Vikings need to win to avoid elimination from contention for the NFC’s final wild-card spot.

With Kendricks out and PointsBet offering the Saints at -6.5, I’m locking them in.

Sean Koerner previews the NFL Christmas Day matchup between the Minnesota Vikings and New Orleans Saints, featuring his spread pick.

Nola picks

DRAFT TRADE: Acquired future second-round pick and cash considerations from Jazz in exchange for Elijah Hughes (No. 39 pick)

DRAFT TRADE: Acquired 2024 second-round pick from Hornets in exchange for Nick Richards (No. 42 pick)

The Pelicans played their best in January and February, compiling a record of 15-10. They ranked first in points and assists per game. So clearly, offense isn’t the problem with two players — Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson — averaging 23.8 and 22.5 ppg, respectively, followed by Jrue Holiday at 19.1 ppg. The Pelicans do tend to get sloppy and finished the season after a disappointing performance in the bubble ranked 29th in turnovers and 28th in opponent fast-break points on the way to a 21st-ranked defensive rating (111.6). These issues can’t really be addressed through the Draft, although the hiring of new coach Stan Van Gundy certainly helps. New Orleans needs to just focus on cohesion while adding to the overall talent.

A Stat That Matters
21.7 — Zion Williamson averaged 21.7 points in the paint per 36 minutes, the highest rate for any player (minimum 500 minutes played) in the 24 seasons for which points in the paint have been tracked.
— John Schuhmann

The Way To Go
Pelicans executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin made shrewd moves to put the team in their current position with no glaring holes on the roster and plenty of picks to add to an already impressive collection of young talent. Griffin bolstered that by hiring Van Gundy, whose prior teams ranked in the top 10 in defensive ratings in nine of his 12 seasons as a coach. New Orleans can afford to take a risk on a project such as French point guard Theo Maledon or Memphis’ Precious Achiuwa. The Pelicans could also take the safe route with a player like Villanova’s Saddiq Bey.

Under Contract
G: Nickeil Alexander-Walker
G: Lonzo Ball
G: Josh Hart
G: Jrue Holiday
G: JJ Redick
F: Nicolo Melli
F: Darius Miller
F: Zion Williamson
F/C: Jaxson Hayes

Free Agents
G: Frank Jackson (restricted)
G: E’Twaun Moore (unrestricted)
G/F: Kenrich Williams (restricted)
F: Derrick Favors (unrestricted)
F: Brandon Ingram (restricted)
F/C: Jahlil Okafor (unrestricted)
>2020 Free Agent Tracker

Recent Draft History

2019: Zion Williamson (1), Jaxson Hayes (8)*, Nickeil Alexander-Walker (17)*, Marcos Louzada Silva (35)*
2018: Tony Carr (51)
2017: Frank Jackson (31)*

Nola picks DRAFT TRADE : Acquired future second-round pick and cash considerations from Jazz in exchange for Elijah Hughes (No. 39 pick) DRAFT TRADE : Acquired 2024 second-round pick from ]]>