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In our first of a series of NFL picks for the year here at Cappers Info, we are set to dissect the duel between the New Orleans Saints and Minnesota Vikings, which will kick off the NFL betting season on Thursday night in the Bayou.
Minnesota Vikings @ New Orleans Saints (-5)
Thursday, September 9th
8:30 ET, Louisiana Superdome, New Orleans, LA
Vikings Notes: Injuries are really starting to mount on the Vikings in a hurry. We already know that WR Sidney Rice is going to miss the first half of the season with a hip injury, and there is still a big time question whether or not WR Percy Harvin is going to be able to suit or not with his migraine problem that helped ruin his preseason. DB Cedric Griffin and DT Jimmy Kennedy are considered doubtful, while RB Toby Gerhart has a sprained knee and is questionable. If all of these players can't suit up, there is going to be a boatload of pressure on QB Brett Favre and RB Adrian Peterson. "All Day" was virtually abused last year, and he could be in for another season of having to carry the load for the men in purple. He rushed for 1,383 yards and 18 TDs on a whopping 314 carries. If you add that to his 43 receptions, Peterson averaged getting 22.3 touches per game in the regular season. Favre played like an MVP last season, completing 68.2 percent of his passes for 4,202 yards and a 33-7 TD-INT ratio, but that doesn't mean that he is going to be capable of pulling this off again. Favre was knocked around incredibly hard by the Saints last year in the NFC Championship Game, and though he ultimately fought through it, he has shown signs of rust as well in the preseason. With a newly cut and pasted together receiving corps, Favre could be in some trouble, especially at the ripe age of 40.
Saints Notes: Playing in New Orleans isn't a fun thing whatsoever. The Saints dominated both the Houston Texans and San Diego Chargers in the Superdome this preseason, winning by a combined score of 74-41. They've only lost one game of any real consequence there since October 2008, which ironically came against these Vikings. New Orleans has very few injury woes to worry about, though the man that was arguably the heart and soul of the defense, SS Darren Sharper won't be suiting in this one. QB Drew Brees is locked and loaded with basically the exact same crop of receivers that he had last year, a significantly different story from the one in Minneapolis. Though Brees didn't nearly hit the 600+ pass attempt mark like he did two seasons ago, he did throw for 4,388 yards and 34 TDs in 2009, making it one of the best seasons in his career. Losing RB Mike Bell is going to hurt quite a bit, as Bell was the second leading rusher on the team a year ago with 654. That only got compounded with the losses of RBs Lynell Hamilton and PJ Hill to season ending injuries in the preseason. Still, expect to see the combination of WR Marques Colston, WR Devery Henderson, WR Robert Meachem, and TE Jeremy Shockey catching a ton of balls for the black and gold this year.
The Final Word: Minnesota has dominated this series in the past, going 4-1 SU and 5-0 ATS over the L/5 duels against the Saints. However, New Orleans won the war last time around with a 31-28 overtime victory in which the spread didn't matter to a single soul in the Bayou. All five have gone 'over' the 'total' as well. Still, we are leaning towards the Saints busting that trend on Thursday night, as they are going to be hyped up, especially with that fancy Super Bowl XLIV banner being raised before the game.
Prediction: Saints 37 – Vikings 20