The London games are back, and they are back with a bang. The Minnesota Vikings are taking on the New Orleans Saints in a matchup between two genuine playoff contenders. Both teams have travelled to London twice before and had positive experiences.
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Playoffs the goal for both teams
With both teams competing in the weaker NFC conference, a playoff berth is what should be expected come the end of the regular season. On top of that the fans in London will get to see some of the best players in the league.
The Vikings have arguably the best receiver in the game with Justin Jefferson and a great supporting cast. Running backs Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison are top notch and veteran QB Kirk Cousins is still exciting to watch.
Its not just the Vikings that have quality players coming over though. The Saints are full of big names on both sides of the ball. Former number one wide receiver in the league, Michael Thomas, is showing signs of his old self after his long-term injury and Running back Alvin Kamara is one of the best in the league.
Rookie Chris Olave has started his NFL career on fire, and they have one of the best defences in the league. The likes of Cam Heywood, Marcus Davenport and Marshon Lattimore are to name just a few in this stellar defence.
The Vikings so far
It’s been a decent start for the Vikings this year currently sitting 2-1 for the season. They started off with a great win against the Packers beating them 23-7. Including a standout game from stud receiver Justin Jefferson hitting 184 yards and two touchdowns.
After such a big win expectation was high only for the Vikings to struggle away to the Eagles. They could not get the offence going and fell to a 24-7 loss. Last Sunday they got back to winning ways beating the Lions at home 28-24, despite being 10 points down going into the final quarter.
Minnesota Vikings -2.5 handicap4/5
The Saints so far
The Saints have struggled at the start of this season and are trying to get back to winning ways in London. Sitting at 1-2 this is not the start to the season that the Saints have been looking for.
They managed to get a win in Atlanta as they beat the Falcons 27-26 on opening weekend but have suffered since. A home game to the Bucs saw the Saints fall to a 20-10 defeat in an ill-tempered game. Then they went away to Carolina and could not get the offence going falling to a 22-14 defeat.
For the Vikings the biggest worry going into this game is Dalvin Cook. The stud running back suffered a partial dislocation to his shoulder during the win against the Lions. This sounds much worse than it is because Cook has dealt with these many times.
Safety, Harrison Smith missed the Lions game with a concussion but should be back for Sunday. Lastly, corner Andrew Booth Jr has been suffering with a quad injury but should be in contention to be back.
The Saints have got a few more worries going into this game, especially on the offence. Michael Thomas didn’t finish the game against the Panthers with a toe injury, however, he is expected to be ok to play. Fellow receiver Jarvis Landry also left the Carolina game with a foot injury.
Taysom Hill missed the Panthers game as well and he may well miss this game. Alvin Kamara is still dealing with a rib injury but managed to play against the Panthers and should suit up again. Finally, guard Andrus Peat left the Carolina game with concussion and will have to go through the protocol in order to play.
Minnesota have played against arguably tougher opposition than the Saints so far this season. The Packers and Eagles are both teams expected to reach the playoffs and a good up and coming Lions side. The Saints have played the Bucs but then the Falcons and Panthers who are predicted to struggle this year.
So far, the Vikings have outscored the Saints 58-51 over there three games. Also, their defence has only given up 55 points compared to the Saints 68. With that in mind the -2.5 on the handicap for the Vikings feels like a solid choice in this matchup.
The Saints have struggled to put points on the board over the last two games. However, the Vikings are ranked 29th against the pass and the Saints should be able to exploit that. Although Michael Thomas and Jarvis Landry have started the season well the guy to look out for is rookie Chris Olave.
He had 13 targets and nine receptions last week against the Panthers finishing with 147 yards. He hasn’t got a touchdown yet but its just a matter of time and this Sunday could be the day.