The 11-5 New Orleans Saints will travel to Minnesota to take on the 13-3 Vikings this Sunday afternoon in the NFC Divisional playoff. Different paths were taken by these teams to get here, as the Saints needed every minute of last weeks game while the Vikings were resting. The Saints held on for a 31-26 victory last week over the Carolina Panthers in the NFC wild card playoff. Drew Brees threw an interception with less than 2 minutes but the Panthers couldn’t capitalize. The Vikings earned the bye finishing second in the NFC behind just the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Vikings offense has played well all year despite having to replace quarterback Sam Bradford and running back Dalvin cook who both suffered season ending injuries. For the year they ranked 10th in points scored with 24 and ranked 11th with 357 yards per game. In 15 games Keenum has thrown for 3,547 yards 22 touchdowns and just 7 interceptions. The Vikings defense has shined this season ranking first in points and yards per game allowed. They gave up 276 yards per game which is 9 less than 2nd place Jaguars, while also just giving up 15.8 points. They are particularly good against the run as they rank second in both rushing and receiving yards allowed by running backs.
New Orleans offense has seen a renaissance behind the play of Drew Brees and rookie running back Alvin Kamara who can do it all offensively. Kamara finished with 1,554 total yards and 13 touchdowns with 8 coming on the ground and 5 in the air. Brees has thrown for 4,334 yards, 23 touchdowns and only 8 interceptions. Mark Ingram and Michael Thomas each had over 1000 yards and combined for 17 touchdowns. For the season they ranked 4th in the league with 28.3 points and 2nd with 392.3 yards per game. The Saints defense ranked 20th in the league with 20 points allowed and ranked 19th with 349 yards allowed per game. They also ranked 3rd in the league and first in the NFC with 20 interceptions.
Minnesota will have home field advantage for this game and favored by 5 points. They have gone 11-4-1 against the spread this season including 6-1-1 at home. Nothing has been able to slow them down as they lost once since October first. The Vikings also hardly turn the ball over having thrown just 8 interceptions and lost 6 fumbles all season. Their defense has also given up 10 or fewer points in 5 of their last 7 games. New Orleans has gone 8-8 against the spread this season including 4-4 on the road. Brees has a bunch of legitimate offensive weapons at their disposal in Kamara, Thomas, Ingram and offseason pick up Ted Ginn Jr. Their defense is tied for second in the NFL with 27 sacks. With the U.S. Bank Stadium having a state of the art dome, weather will not be a factor in this game.
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