I unfortunately don't have time to write up a formal pick for the game tonight, but I fully expect the Saints to steamroll the Vikings tonight, easily covering the -5 line. I am professedly down on the Saints as a team this year, but I like them to win handily nonetheless. Primarily, I think the Saints will receive yet another Katrina-related emotional boost tonight; on the NFL Network right now, I'm watching them celebrate the city's championship, triggering memories of the Superdome's tragic role in Katrina, and the Saints are summoning that Who Dat mojo once more. I think that the emotional lift will propel them tonight.
I know, I know, BadNFL promised to limit its reliance on psychology this year. But this is one of the few circumstances where I feel that it's valid; the Saints have shown that they're one of those teams who can summon a special emotional edge in important Superdome moments (remember the first post-Katrina game? Still sends shivers through my spines, as did the Saints' dominance). Moreover, in the past 10 years, the Super Bowl champs are 10-0 in their opening games, and they perform especially well in Thursday night games like this one.
I also agree with Bill Simmons that the Vikings are primed for a regression this year. Too many injuries, Favre won't repeat his best season at age 40, and I think the loss of Chester Taylor is bigger than people think. The Saints, for all their flaws, were a team that really showed the ability to blow teams out, particularly early last year. I think they're going to cover this spread tonight.
I'm also betting that people will overvalue what I expect to be a good Saints' performance tonight; ignoring the temporary spike of the opening Superdome magic and the somewhat down nature of the Vikings, people will flock to the Saints' bandwagon. And then we'll see if BadNFL's preseason logic holds.
Regardless, I'm working on my actual pick for this week, and faithful readers can expect that sometime tomorrow!