The Vikings Road to the Playoffs May Be Getting a Little Easier

Jun 14, 2022; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara (41) runs drills during minicamp at the New Orleans Saints Training Facility. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Throughout the history of the NFL, few rivalries run as deeply as the one between the Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers. However, if you ask Vikings fans that are 20-plus years old, I will venture to guess that perhaps 60-70% of them say that a different team is their least favorite in the league. That team is of course the New Orleans Saints. Ever since that infamous NFC title game, and a couple highly contested playoff matchups since, there has been a special type of hatred between the two fan bases that, during most years, completely avoid each other.

This rivalry will be re-kindled during 2022, but it will occur under unique circumstances. The two teams will face off across the pond in Week 4, with the game taking place in London. However, an interesting little nugget is coming back to the surface that seems to have gone forgotten during this offseason of crazy free agency, QB trades, and lawsuits.

If you’ll recall, during the week of the Pro Bowl (yes, all the way back in February), there was a report that Alvin Kamara found himself in a scuffle at a Las Vegas bar prior to the exhibition.

Ever since then, it seems that this fight, which left the other man involved with an orbital fracture, has been swept under the rug as the NFL tries to deal with other skeletons in their closet (i.e. Deshaun Watson and Dan Snyder). Kamara could see some consequences for these actions soon, though. The suspected punishment for the Saints star running back is a six-game suspension.

If this is in fact the end result of Kamara’s fight, the obvious caveat is that this will leave him unavailable to New Orleans ahead of their Week 4 game against the Vikings. Currently, the only other running backs on the Saints roster that had 10-plus carries in 2021 are Mark Ingram and Tony Jones. Neither of them present as much of a challenge in the receiving game as Kamara, either.

In essence, this “road” game for Minnesota potentially just got a whole lot easier. It cannot be overstated how important this is for the Vikings. This team missed the playoffs by a single game in each of the last two seasons.

On top of this singular game, the playoffs seem much more within reach if Kamara misses the first third of the year. Right now, many people view the Vikings and Saints in a very similar tier; slightly above-average groups that should compete for wild card spots.

The idea that the Saints and Vikings are very similar teams tracks all the way to the sportsbook. If you know anything about me, you know that I read betting odds like some people read the Bible. According to FanDuel, the Vikings are currently +100 to make the playoffs, the 17th-best odds to make the playoffs. The Saints are 18th at +130.

The odds of these two teams making the playoffs are essentially the same as the odds of any random coin flip landing on heads. The Vikings need to take advantage of any games that Kamara misses because it could determine whether they make a playoff run or not.