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NFC Wild Card

Minnesota Vikings at New Orleans Saints

Over/Under: 50

Kickoff: 10:05 a.m. PT


To call the recent postseason history between the Vikings and Saints thrilling might be an understatement.

There was the Minneapolis Miracle from a couple of years ago, in which the Vikings walked off on Stefon Diggs’ memorable 61-yard touchdown. At the top of the decade, it was the Saints who prevailed in a memorable NFC Championship clash, defeating Brett Favre (which may or may not have included a bounty on him) in his final playoff game en route to the franchise’s first and only Super Bowl title.

This next encounter figures to only stay in line with that excitement.

Whenever seeking out bets, you always prefer to find constants. Well, in the Drew Brees/Sean Payton Era, there’s been no more of a constant on the offensive side of the ball than New Orleans, who continue to put up points with the best of them.

In fact, the Saints finished among the league’s four highest-scoring teams for the fourth year in a row, piling 28.6 points per week. As always, that’s also been sparked by their signature home cooking.

New Orleans averaged 30.7 points in front of Saints faithful at the Superdome this year. Last season, that number was, well, a very scrumptious 36.6. In 2017 they put up 34 points per game at home and 31 the year prior. That’s consistency at its finest.

Fortunately — relatively speaking since the Saints should be home anyway on a bye — that’s where they’ll be for their first postseason affair. Oh and speaking of consistency, nobody fits that bill more than Brees himself. His all-time records are customary, as is his place among the league’s all-time greats.

While the 40-year-old still performs at the highest level, his age indicates this could be one of his last postseason treks — and Brees has recognized that, along with this group’s window closing, in previous comments. Thus, I know we can get one of his usual strong performances in this one.

Plus, his past in the Wild Card with Payton certainly indicates he’s always locked in for this stage. Just look at the numbers: In four games, Brees averaged 374 yards while compiling eight touchdown passes to three picks. The Saints also tallied 34.5 points on average in those outings as well.

So, basically all we need to hit this over is for the Vikings to at least hang around. And despite Kirk Cousins’ (always-talked-about) inability to come out on top in big games, I think we can get that done.

First of all, just because the former Washington Redskin is 6-29 against teams with winning records for his career doesn’t mean he’s played bad in those games. He’s had plenty of good ones in such circumstances, so I don’t buy that narrative.

Either way, Cousins isn’t getting proper credit for crafting maybe his best season to date, one that saw him log a career-best 107.1 passer rating. The offense also averaged a very healthy 25.8 points each week, ranking them eighth in the NFL.

But the main thing in play here that can pave the way for one of those useful Cousins stat lines is that this is a contest being held in a dome. That’s very significant when talking about the right-year vet because over his career, Cousins has composed a passer rating nearly 15 full points higher indoors (107.5) compared to outside (92.8).

Most important of all, though, is that Cousins will be getting back Dalvin Cook. Outside of the obvious, this is also significant because of the impact it will have with play-action. For Cousins, that’s as valuable as can be, seeing as how he led the NFL in passer rating (145.8!) on play-action passes from Week 5 through the end of the season. In addition, he also registered 13 TDs and only one pick.

Remarkably, the early Sunday slot of Wild Card weekend has seen the under emerge victorious in nine consecutive years, but you certainly can’t expect that continue here. I was able to get it at 49 from 49.5 (-120) yesterday but couldn’t write this up until now due to my bout with the flu this week, so I still say get it to 49 from 50 in case this turns out to be one of those 28-21 shootouts. Play: OVER 49 (-130)

Last Week: Chargers-Chiefs Over 44 (WIN)

Zylbert’s 2019 NFL Over/Under Betting Record*: 11-9, +0.4 unit

*Each bet graded as if it were to win 1 unit

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