NFL Week 4 Upset Alert Presents the Saints As a Live Underdog vs. Vikings

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The NFL’s first international game takes place this Sunday when the Minnesota Vikings (2-1) face the New Orleans Saints (1-2). Minnesota’s only two playoff wins since 2010 have been against the Saints, including the lone playoff win of the Kirk Cousins era (2019 wild card in overtime).

The Saints are a 3-point underdog at many of the top-rated sportsbooks. Can Jameis Winston and company rebound from two ugly losses to take down a Minnesota team that’s also played some rough football after opening day?

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Minnesota Vikings vs. New Orleans Saints

Sunday, October 2, 2022 – 09:30 AM EDT at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium

Saint's Offense Not Doing Great

We knew the Saints would struggle to maintain their offensive efficiency after going from Drew Brees and Sean Payton to Jameis Winston and Dennis Allen at quarterback and head coach. But we did not expect this much of a struggle as the team is averaging 17 points per game and has a league-worst 9 turnovers.

Slow starts have been brutal for the Saints. New Orleans has scored a league-low 13 points before the fourth quarter through Week 3. The Saints have been shut out in the second quarter in all three games.

On the bright side, the Saints lead the NFL with 38 fourth-quarter points, including a 16-point rally over the Falcons in Week 1 for their only win. But you only get to play the Falcons twice a year if you’re New Orleans. The Buccaneers and Panthers shut the door rather easily on their division rivals with Winston having a lot of turnovers down the stretch.

Health-Related Issues

Health has not been helpful to the Saints and may have something to explain the slow starts. Winston took a lot of sacks in Week 1 and his back was ailing for the Tampa Bay game where he again was punished by the defense.

Running back Alvin Kamara missed that game, returned against Carolina, and he put the ball on the ground early, which was returned for a touchdown as the Panthers won wire-to-wire.

Late in the Carolina game, both wide receivers Michael Thomas and Jarvis Landry left the game with foot injuries.

Saints Need Faster Starts

It just seems like this offense doesn’t come out with any real plan on what to do, then once it gets to the fourth quarter and their bodies have loosened up, they can start moving the football.

Avoiding turnovers is a different question, but these slow starts have got to go for the Saints if they want to be relevant this season.

Fortunately, Minnesota’s defense allowed all 24 points in the first half against the Eagles in Week 2, and the Lions opened a quick 14-0 lead on Sunday before losing in the final minute.

It sounds like Landry is going to play, and so could Thomas, so Winston may have his full arsenal of weapons. Rookie wide receiver Chris Olave also broke out with a huge 147-yard game on Sunday.

Minnesota’s Offense Has Its Own Issues

When the Vikings beat the Packers in Week 1, Justin Jefferson (184 yards and 2 touchdowns) looked like he was ready to do his best 2021 Cooper Kupp impersonation and take the Vikings the distance this year.

So much for that. Jefferson was held to 48 yards on 12 targets in Philadelphia before finishing with just 14 yards against Detroit. Just two weeks after Jefferson set his career high in yards, he had his first game with under 20 yards in the NFL.

It is good to see Adam Thielen and K.J. Osborn, who caught the game-winning touchdown against Detroit, producing for the offense again, but Kirk Cousins has to get this connection with Jefferson back immediately.

Main Problems for Vikings When Facing the Saints

Unfortunately for Minnesota, the Saints are still defending the pass well. They are holding quarterbacks, including Tom Brady, to 54.3% completions and 6.3 yards per attempt. Those are great defensive numbers in 2022.

The problem is the Saints don’t have any interceptions yet and only 4 sacks. The pressure and splash plays have just not been there yet.

The other troublesome news for Minnesota is that running back Dalvin Cook left Sunday’s game with another shoulder injury. He may need to wear a harness to play this game, if he even makes the trip at all.

Alexander Mattison is a good choice for a backup, but most of his career success has been against Detroit. The Saints have a better defense than that.

How Can the Saints Win This Game?

However, after some dominant run defenses in recent years, the Saints are off to a slow start, ranked 26th in yards allowed and 13th in yards per carry (finished No. 1 in 2021).

But the good news is that after struggling with the division Falcons in Week 1, the Saints held Carolina and Tampa Bay under 300 yards the last two weeks. Do that again to Minnesota and the chances to win the game will go up.

The offense just has to avoid giving up a turnover for a touchdown for the third game in a row.

Vikings vs. Saints: Pick and Prediction

Did you know Jameis Winston (2019) and Kirk Cousins (2015) are the last two NFL quarterbacks to throw a pick-six in overtime? A London game between these two just screams "last quarterback to make a mistake loses it".

But with Cook’s health and the way the Saints can defend Jefferson, and the way the Minnesota defense has been getting shredded by wide receivers, this feels like a good opportunity for the Saints to get back to .500.

Let's take them for our NFL picks.

NFL Pick: Saints ML (+125) at Bovada (visit our Bovada Review)

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Saints ML (+125)
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