Saints vs. Vikings odds, predictions: 2019 Preseason Week 1 picks from proven expert who's 22-11

The Minnesota Vikings begin what they hope will be a bounce-back season on Friday when they visit the New Orleans Saints in NFL Week 1 preseason action. Kickoff is at 8 p.m. ET from the Mercedez-Benz Superdome in the Big Easy. The Vikings finished 8-7-1 last year, missing the playoffs for the third time in five seasons under coach Mike Zimmer. The defensive mastermind seems to put a premium on preseason games -- Minnesota is 17-4 all-time under Zimmer --  but the Saints are a Super Bowl contender eager to erase the sting of last year's controversial NFC Championship Game loss. Sportsbooks peg New Orleans as a 2.5-point home favorite in the latest Saints vs. Vikings odds, with the over-under for total points set at 37. Before you make any Vikings vs. Saints picks or 2019 NFL predictions for the preseason, see what Saints expert Larry Hartstein has to say.

A former lead writer for Covers and The Linemakers, Hartstein combines a vast network of Vegas sources with an analytical approach he honed while working for Pro Football Focus. Last year, the SportsLine senior analyst went 61-47 on all his NFL picks.

And he's especially dialed in when it comes to the Saints. In his last 33 picks involving New Orleans, Hartstein has been right 22 times, an eye-popping 67 percent cash rate.

Now, Hartstein has broken down Saints vs. Vikings in NFL preseason Week 1 from every angle and locked in a strong pointspread pick. He's only sharing it at SportsLine.

Hartstein knows the starters won't play much, if at all Friday night, leaving Saints backup quarterback Teddy Bridgewater as a pivotal figure. The former Vikings first-round pick has shined in training camp. In a 7-on-7 drill this week, Bridgewater completed every pass and showed pinpoint accuracy on intermediate and deep throws, per NOLA.com. Bridgewater is arguably the NFL's top backup quarterback and he'll be locked in facing his old team.

The Saints also should have extra motivation given Minnesota knocked them out of the NFC Divisional Playoffs with Stefon Diggs' miracle touchdown following the 2017 season, the first of two heartbreaking postseason losses suffered by New Orleans the past two years.

But just because New Orleans is at home and eager to prove a point doesn't mean they'll cover the Saints vs. Vikings spread.

Minnesota coach Mike Zimmer is 14-7 against the spread in preseason games, tied for the second-best mark among those who have coached at least six preseason contests. And he has a solid backup quarterback as well, in former Ram Sean Mannion. He's played in 10 NFL games and started one.

The Vikings addressed their primary weakness, the offensive line, in the 2019 NFL draft. They nabbed elite center Garrett Bradbury in the first round, guard Dru Samia in the fourth. Look for Minnesota to establish its running game on Friday, which features the electric Dalvin Cook and bruising third-round rookie Alexander Mattison.

We can tell you Hartstein is going under, but his much stronger play is against the spread. He's isolated a massive X-factor that has him going big on one side. He's only sharing what it is, and who to back, at SportsLine.

Who wins Vikings vs. Saints? And what massive X-factor makes one side of the spread a must-back? Visit SportsLine now to see Larry Hartstein's strong spread pick, all from the Saints expert who's nailed 22 of his last 33 picks involving New Orleans.

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