© Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
The Minnesota Vikings’ 26-20 win over the New Orleans Saints means the Vikings will head to the inaugural playoff game at Levi’s Stadium against the 49ers on Saturday, January 11. It will be the sixth time the two teams have faced off in the playoffs, all but one of which have been home games for San Francisco.
Of the five prior meetings, the 49ers won the last three, opening as 14-point favorites in the 1997 season (winning 38-22), 7.5-point favorites in the 1988 season (winning 41-13) and 3.5-point favorites in the 1988 season (winning 34-9).
The first playoff matchup was a 17-14 road win for the 49ers in 1970 (historical odds unavailable).
18 years later, the two teams met again at Candlestick Park in the 49ers’ infamous 36-24 loss (49ers were 9.0-point favorites) in which Bill Walsh benched Joe Montana for Steve Young. It did, however, set up back-to-back Super Bowl titles (one by Walsh and one by George Seifert in his first season as head coach after Walsh’s retirement before the 1989 season).
The first-seeded 49ers will open as 6.5-point favorites against the sixth-seeded Vikings according to the Action Network, which is the second-lowest mark San Francisco has been favored by in any of those five home matchups. In similarly bizarre fashion, the Vikings are the lowest-seeded team now, just as they were in that 1987 season loss (fifth seed) after beating who else but the New Orleans Saints.