NFL Divisional Weekend: #4 NEW ORLEANS SAINTS vs #2 MINNESOTA VIKINGS

NFL Divisional Weekend: #4 NEW ORLEANS SAINTS vs #2 MINNESOTA VIKINGS


NFL DIVISIONAL WEEKEND MATCH UP

#2 MINNESOTA VIKINGS vs #4 NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

(Sunday, January 14, 2018 4:40 pm EST FOX)

PREVIEW

A lot of things have changed since these 2 teams last met on the very first Monday Night Football of the season. In that game, the Vikings beat the Saints 29 -19. Vikings defense held the Saints’ RB trio of Adrian Peterson, Alvin Kamara, and Mark Ingram to a combined 60 yards of rushing; while the Saints defense let Dalvin Cook run for 127 yards by himself. About 4 months have flown by and it’s safe to say that we can throw out our notes from their first meeting because they’re both completely different teams. Since that game, Vikings lost both Sam Bradford and Dalvin Cook to injury, Saints traded Adrian Peterson to the Arizona Cardinals, and there’s a full season of film to watch on both teams to help the coaches prepare.

Even though only Bradford will be healthy for this game, don’t expect to see him play. Case Keenum has had a great season filling in for Bradford.  Keenum has impressed us with his fearlessness and his determination. He’s shown the ability to get the ball to 3 main weapons WR Stefon Diggs, WR Adam Thielen, and TE Kyle Rudolph. He’s also been blessed to play with one of the league’s best defenses this year. Hopefully Keenum won’t let the big stage get to him as he plays his first playoff game.

After the Saints got rid of Adrian Peterson, their run game magically became one of the best in the league as if Peterson was a flu virus. With one less mouth to share with, Kamara and Ingram have been running all over the league. Together, they are the first running back teammates in NFL history to record 1,500+ scrimmage yards in the same season. They were both held in check in last week’s wild card game against the Carolina Panthers. The only combined for 45 yards. The Saints were still able to pull off the win thanks to Drew Brees’ 2 TD passes and the persistence of DE Cameron Jordan. Saints will be looking to reestablish their run game because passing against this Vikings defense is not smart if you don’t have a solid run game to throw them off. This will be a great revenge game.

PREDICTION

This might not be the shootout that everyone is expecting. Expect Saints to come out strong trying to prove their last game was a fluke.  Brees will have 2 TD pass in each half. They will try to use Kamara and Ingram as much as possible. I’m leaning towards Kamara being favored between the 2. He will run one TD in and catch one from Brees. Vikings defense will hold up strong against Brees & Co. but I can’t see them holding them to 19 pts again.

It won’t take Case Keenum too long to settle down from the playoff excitement. He’ll throw 3 TDs total. Diggs will have an impressive game. Between him and the Saints’ WR Michael Thomas get ready for a lot of catches that will leave you saying “How the hell did he catch that?” at least 7 times. Don’t ask me why I picked 7; it’s just my favorite number. Those two won’t have it easy. Thomas will be up against CB Xavier Rhodes and Diggs against rookie sensation CB Marshon Lattimore. This will be one of the best games this weekend. Both teams are well balanced on both sides of the ball, but only one will have another opportunity to return to U.S. Bank Stadium to fight for the Lombardi trophy.

FINAL SCORE

SAINTS 35 – VIKINGS 24