Drew Brees Saints Vikings
Everson Griffen #97 of the Minnesota Vikings sacks quarterback Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints in the third quarter of the game on Sept. 11, 2017 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Arguably the two best NFC teams in the 2018 NFL playoffs will meet Sunday afternoon. The Minnesota Vikings host the New Orleans Saints in the divisional round, and the winner will probably go on to be favored in the conference championship game.

Minnesota is favored at home in the second-round matchup. New Orleans is a 4.5-point underdog, according to the betting odds at OddsShark. The game’s over/under is 46.5.

The Saints are visiting the team that tied the Philadelphia Eagles for the NFL’s best record, but few would be surprised to see New Orleans win at U.S. Bank Stadium. New Orleans might have their best team since winning Super Bowl XLIV in 2010 now that they’ve surrounded Drew Brees with a well-rounded team.

Gone are the days of Brees having to throw for 300-plus yards in order for the Saints to be competitive. New Orleans vastly improved a defense that ranked second-to-last in points allowed a year ago. Not only did they make major upgrades in the draft, but players that were already on the roster had career years in the 2017 season.

Defensive end Cameron Jordan recorded 13 sacks and was named First-team All-Pro. Rookie cornerback Marshon Lattimore helped transform the secondary and limit opposing quarterbacks to a 79.0 passer rating. The Saints ended the regular season 10th in the league, allowing 20.4 points per game.

Brees has more help than ever on offense because of the best running back tandem in football. Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram both totaled more than 1,500 yards from scrimmage. Kamara was especially impactful, scoring 13 touchdowns and averaging 7.73 yards per touch.

Not much has changed for Brees, who even in his 17th season, remains one of football’s elite quarterbacks. He had a 103.9 passer rating and threw for well over 4,000 yards for a 12th straight year.

Brees seemingly gives New Orleans the game’s biggest advantage. The Saints will start a sure-fire Hall of Famer at quarterback, while the Vikings will rely on a career backup. Case Keenum has been terrific under center since taking over for the injured Sam Bradford, though there are still questions regarding how well he’ll perform in the biggest game of his life.

Doubting Keenum at this point feels like a waste of energy. The quarterback passed every test imaginable in the regular season, posting a 98.3 passer rating and performing like a borderline MVP candidate. He won big games against winning teams like the Los Angeles Rams, Atlanta Falcons and Detroit Lions, doing so with triple-digit passer ratings when Minnesota needed him most.

Much like Brees, Keenum doesn’t need to carry his team. Far from it, actually, since the Vikings have the NFL’s No.1 ranked defense.

No offense plays well on the road against the Vikings. That includes the Saints, who lost 29-19 in the season opener. Minnesota went on to win six of their next seven home games, never allowing an opponent to score more than 17 points.

The Saints lost five games in the regular season, all of them coming when they failed to run the ball effectively. The Vikings are second against the run, and they allow just 3.7 yards per carry.

With three Pro Bowlers on defense and the way Minnesota stops opposing offenses at home, you can bet that New Orleans won’t score a ton of points Sunday afternoon. Minnesota’s offense with Keenum, Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen should make enough plays to put the Vikings one step closer toward reaching Super Bowl LII.

Prediction: Minnesota over New Orleans, 24-17