Examining trends for each team can help you make better-informed gambling and fantasy decisions. It’s never wise to bet a game based on a single trend and it’s also never wise to back off a wager based on a single trend, either. With that said, trends can point you in the right direction by corroborating stats and information you’ve gathered or they can make you reconsider making a bad wager based on flimsy data. I’ve gone game-by-game and compiled the most relevant trends for each team heading into this week’s contests. I’ve included any bets or leans I have for each game at the end of each writeup. Good luck with your wagers!
Minnesota Vikings (6-8, 6-8 ATS) at New Orleans Saints (10-4, 7-7), 4:30 p.m.
Implied Team Totals: Vikings 22.25, Saints 29.25
Spread/Total Movements: 6.5 to 7, 52 to 51.5
Vikings Injuries to Watch: TE Kyle Rudolph (foot), RB Alexander Mattison (concussion), LB Eric Kendricks (calf), FB C.J. Ham (quad), DE Jayln Holmes (groin), LB Troy Dye (concussion/hamstring)
Saints Injuries to Watch: WR Tre’Quan Smith (ankle), LG Andrus Peat (ankle), S Marcus Williams (ankle), OG Nick Easton (concussion)
The Vikings have failed to cover in five straight games after they ran off a 6-1 ATS stretch in Weeks 3-10.
Dalvin Cook has 22+ touches in 12 straight games with 110+ scrimmage yards in nine of those contests. He’s reached 100+ rushing yards in three straight games, but he could be stifled a little more than usual against this nasty run defense and he could be operating in a negative game script as seven-point road underdogs. The Saints are allowing just 17.9 FPG to RBs (2nd-fewest). Miles Sanders is the only RB to reach 20+ FP against the Saints this season.
Kirk Cousins has cooled off a bit in the last two weeks, but he’s still been good for 18-23 FP in six of his last seven games — the outlier was a 27.2 FP performance against the Panthers in Week 12. Cousins has attempted 35+ passes in each of his last four games, and volume is typically half the battle when we start Cousins. He gets a tougher matchup against the Saints this week, but the stars are aligning for 35+ passes again this week. Cousins also has 3+ carries in four straight games for 97 yards to supplement his fantasy production.
Justin Jefferson has become the #1 WR in Minnesota over the last three weeks with 21/264/1 receiving on 31 targets since Thielen returned to the lineup. Big-play receivers Tyreek Hill and Mecole Hardman each scored against the Saints last week.
Adam Thielen has 13/125/2 receiving on 18 targets in his last three games, but he continues to dominate near the end zone. He has four more touchdown receptions than the next closest player (Davante Adams) on end-zone targets with 12. The Saints are giving up 1.1 TDs per game to WRs.
Irv Smith had a game of what-ifs in Week 15 as he dropped an easy touchdown before he watched Tyler Conklin score a touchdown later in the game. He still posted a decent 3/37 receiving on four targets while running a route 85.4% of Cousins’ dropbacks (35 of 41). Smith does get a tough matchup with the Saints this week, but Dallas Goedert managed 4/43 receiving on six targets against New Orleans two weeks ago. The Vikings are on short rest in Week 16 and Minnesota doesn’t have anything to play for after the Bears eliminated them from playoff contention so Kyle Rudolph (foot) could miss again.
New Orleans has failed to cover in two straight games after a five-game ATS win streak in Week 9-13.
The Saints are 9-5 toward overs but they’re 5-2 toward unders in their last seven games.
Drew Brees didn’t look quite ready for primetime last week after a five-week layoff for his 11 broken ribs as he completed 5/16 passes for 87 yards and an INT in the first half. He did start to heat up late with 147/3 passing with the Chiefs defense playing soft with a lead. At least Taysom Hill didn’t attempt a pass last week but he did vulture a rushing TD. Mike Zimmer’s once-vaunted defense has given up 26+ points in each of the last five games, but Andy Dalton is the only QB to reach 20+ FP in that span.
With Brees back in the lineup, Alvin Kamara didn’t disappoint with 3/40/1 receiving on six targets and 11/54 rushing against the Chiefs in Week 15, which looks even better when you consider Brees completed just 15/34 passes. Kamara is now averaging 7.1/68.8/.5 receiving on 8.6 targets per game in 10 games with Brees in the lineup. Three straight RBs (Montgomery/RoJo/J-Rob) have reached 80+ scrimmage yards and 1+ TD against the Vikings.
Emmanuel Sanders is the top receiver again with Michael Thomas (ankle, IR) out for the rest of the regular season. He saw just a 14.7% target share last week, but he turned his five targets into 4/76 receiving, which gives him 4+ catches and 55+ receiving yards in each of his last four games with Brees. Darnell Mooney posted 4/49/1 receiving in this matchup last week.
The Saints were down to Juwan Johnson (3 targets) and Lil’Jordan Humphrey (2/29/1) as the top options behind Sanders last week after Tre’Quan Smith left early with an ankle injury. Even with their WR issues, Jared Cook managed just 2/29 receiving on five targets. He’s topped three catches just twice this season and his two-game scoring streak came to an end. The Vikings have allowed just five TDs to TEs this season.
Minnesota Vikings +7 (Staff Pick Lean)
Justin Jefferson (Min) over 64.5 receiving yards (Best Bet)
Kirk Cousins (Min) over 8.5 rushing yards (Best Bet)