New Orleans Saints vs. Minnesota Vikings odds: NFL Playoff picks from top-ranked expert

A trip to the NFC Championship Game is on the line Sunday when the New Orleans Saints face the Minnesota Vikings in a showdown of teams with serious Super Bowl aspirations. The Vikings are favored by 5.5 points, up two from the opening line. The Over-Under, or total number of points Vegas thinks will be scored, is 46.5, also up two from the opening line.

Before you make any kind of pick on this matchup, you have to see who SportsLine stat geek R.J. White is backing.

The 2017 NFL season has been extremely profitable if you've been listening to White. He is currently the site's No. 1 NFL expert and finished in the top one percent of the Las Vegas SuperContest -- his second cash in three years in the world's most prestigious handicapping competition. Last season, he finished in the top two percent.

He followed that amazing regular season with a 3-1 performance against the spread on Wild Card Weekend and on Saturday, he correctly called the Patriots covering a nearly two-touchdown spread against the Titans. Anyone who has followed his picks is up big-time.

Now, he's studied every angle of this battle between the champions of the NFC North and the NFC South and locked in his pick. He's only sharing it over at SportsLine.

White knows the Saints have a huge edge when it comes to quarterback experience. This will be Minnesota quarterback Case Keenum's first postseason start, while Drew Brees has started a dozen playoff games and has a winning record that includes a Super Bowl MVP performance. 

SportsLine's advanced projection model says that Brees will throw for 250 yards and at least one touchdown on Sunday, with Michael Thomas being the best receiving bet to find the end zone.  

The Saints put together an eight-game winning streak in the middle of the season and won 11 of their last 14 overall before knocking off the Panthers on Wild Card Weekend. They've won three of their last four by double-digits.

But just because the Saints have a loaded offense and played well late in the season doesn't mean they'll be able to go on the road and stay within the 5.5-point spread. 

Minnesota is no fluke as the No. 2 seed in the NFC. The Vikings got there with a dominant defense that was No. 1 in total defense and No. 1 in points allowed. And they were especially stingy at home, giving up just 12.5 points per contest at U.S. Bank Stadium. 

In their last three games at home, the Vikings allowed a total of 24 points to the Bears, Bengals, and Rams. In between at Lambeau Field, they delivered their first shutout over the Packers since 1971.  

The Vikings and Saints met in Week 1, with the Vikings winning 29-19. QB Sam Bradford threw for a dazzling 346 yards and three touchdowns, while Dalvin Cook rushed for a season-high 127. On the other side of the ball, Brees had almost 300 yards passing and a score.

Cook tore his ACL in Week 4 and missed the rest of the season, while Bradford was reactivated from IR on Saturday and is expected to back up Case Keenum.

SportsLine's model says Keenum will throw for over 200 yards and two touchdowns, while Stefon Diggs has the best chance of any Minnesota pass-catcher of finding the end zone. It also says Vikings RB Latavius Murray, who has three touchdowns in his last three games, scores again.

White has evaluated all of the circumstances and has identified a trend that nobody is talking about that has made him confidently back one side. Find out what it is, and who to back, over at SportsLine.

So who is White backing on Sunday? Visit SportsLine now to see who you should back and what trend that nobody is talking about will determine the point-spread winner of Saints-Vikings, all from the man who finished in the top one percent of the nation's top handicapping tournament.

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