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Wednesday, 16 January, 2019

New Orleans can trouble an excellent Vikings defence

Expect points for Saints in Minnesota trip

New Orleans Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore
1 of 1

Sky Sports Action, 9.40pm Sunday

We have had 51 Super Bowls without a team playing in the showpiece in their own stadium, but as they were second favourites to win the Vince Lombardi Trophy heading into the divisional round, plenty fancy that Minnesota can do it this year.

There are many reasons to be optimistic about the team who have the league's meanest defence and have won 11 of their last 12 games, so it is little surprise that those who feel teams in form should do well in the post-season have been keen to support them.

But they face a side who have performed almost equally well since they lost their opening two matches, an early-season blow from which many teams fail to recover.

However, New Orleans have kept their focus in a titanic battle for the NFC South as they captured the division with 11 wins from their final 14 matches, as impressive rookies found their feet in the league on both sides of the ball.

First-round pick cornerback Marshon Lattimore looks set to be defensive rookie of the year while Alvin Kamara has formed an excellent running-back tandem with Mark Ingram, which means the Saints do not always have to rely on the brilliant arm of veteran quarterback Drew Brees.

So they should be a tougher proposition than the team the Vikings beat 29-19 in the opening week, especially as wide receiver Willie Snead is not suspended this time.

Sam Bradford was at quarterback for Minnesota on that occasion and it looks set to be a big night for replacement Case Keenum, who has performed well this season but faces his first playoff game.

The handicap looks to be fair, but expect the Saints to be positive and keep the Vikings defence guessing, a tactic that could help them eclipse the 20-point mark.

Over 20 New Orleans points
2pts 20-23 Ladbrokes

The lowdown
Venue US Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Surface Artificial
Weather Indoors
Vegas handicap New Orleans +5
Vegas points line 46.5

Team news
New Orleans
Wide receiver Brandon Coleman has been ruled out with a neck injury. Linebacker Michael Mauti is listed as questionable with illness.
Cornerback Terence Newman is struggling with a foot injury after being limited in practice on Friday.

Key stat
The points total has gone over the line on six of New Orleans' last seven visits to Minnesota

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The handicap looks to be fair, but expect the Saints to be positive and keep the Vikings defence guessing
E.W. Terms
Sky bet