Going back to a thrilling overtime victory in the NFC Championship Game seven years ago, the Saints are 4-0 straight up and 3-1 against the spread in their last four meetings with the Vikings. Can New Orleans extend that streak to five when it opens its season at Minnesota on Monday night?
NFL betting pick, via OddsShark computer: 23.4-20.2 Vikings (NFL picks on every game)
Why the Saints can cover the spread
The Saints started 0-3 last year and never quite recovered. They actually won seven of their next 12 games to make things interesting, before losing their finale to finish 7-9 for the third straight season. New Orleans lost seven games last year by six points or fewer, four by a field goal or less and three games in which it led or was tied for the lead in the fourth quarter.
Going into this season the Saints are lined at +400 to win the NFC South (bet $100 to win $400), +2000 to win the NFC and +5000 to win the Super Bowl, with a win over/under total of eight.
New Orleans led the NFL in total offense last year with 426.0 yards per game, and while the Saints defense only ranked 17th overall (375.4 YPG), it came in 14th against the run (101.6 YPG). With a little improvement on that side of the ball, New Orleans could win a few more of those close games and possibly return to the playoffs.
Why the Vikings can cover the spread
The Vikings opened 5-0 last season, with wins over then-defending NFC champion Carolina and four other teams that ended up with winning records. Minnesota then went a bit cold offensively and lost eight of its last 11 games to finish 8-8. But four of those losses came by six points or fewer, including one in overtime, and two came in games the Vikings allowed just 16 and 17 points.
Heading into this season Minnesota is getting +325 to win the NFC North, +1600 to win the NFC and +3300 to win the Super Bowl, with an over/under win total of 8.5.
The Vikings only ranked 28th in total offense last season at 315.1 yards per game, but third in total defense, holding foes to 314.9 yards per game. With improvement offensively, the Vikings could win not just a couple more games but a division title.
In matchups between great offenses and great defenses, the smart money on the Vegas lines usually resides with the defense. But not only did the Saints lead the league in yardage last year, they've added former Minnesota great Adrian Peterson. How much AP still has in the tank is uncertain, but emotion might elevate his game going against his former team in his former home. The smart play here is New Orleans.
NFL betting trends
The Saints are 2-6 ATS in their last eight games against the Vikings.
The total has gone over in six of the Saints' last eight games against the Vikings.
The Vikings are 6-1 ATS in their last seven games at night.
All NFL odds and betting trends courtesy of Bleacher Report's official odds partner, OddsShark. All quotes gathered firsthand unless otherwise noted. Check out Twitter for injury and line-movement updates and the OddsShark YouTube page for picks and analysis, or download the free odds tracker app.