Date and Time: Sunday January 14th, at 4:40 Eastern Time
Announcers: Joe Buck and Troy Aikman
While the Saints are trying to get revenge for their humiliating loss to the Vikings in Week 1, the Vikings would like avenge their loss from the 2009 NFC Championship game. The players may not have that game in mind as there isn’t anyone on the roster (apart from defensive end Brian Robinson) from that game, but the players and coaches know how close the franchise got to a Super Bowl berth and don’t want to have another loss to the Saints in the playoffs.
For the Vikings, it’s all about silencing the ghosts from the past and proving the doubters wrong.
Why the Vikings can win
Minnesota has built an all-world defense, which number one overall, only allowing 275.9 yards per game, but also only 15.8 points per game. This defense is just plain tough to move the ball on.
Case Keenum has been a very good quarterback, starting in place of both Sam Bradford and Teddy Bridgewater. The ground game, led by Jerrick McKinnon and Latavius Murray has picked up the slack since rookie Dalvin Cook was lost for the season.
Minnesota has weapons in the passing game in Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen, and Kyle Rudolph, so it isn’t just about stopping the other team.
Playing in front of their home crowd (indoors this time) will also be big, due to how good Drew Brees and the Saints are at home.
Mike Zimmer doesn’t make the headlines often enough as to how good of a coach this is, but make no mistake. He’ll have the Vikings ready for this game.
Why the Saints can win
The Saints finished 10th on defense, but were also the number two offense (391.2 yards per game and 28 points per game) and are very difficult to stop once they get into a rhythm.
What makes this Saints team different from the ones that have come up short since 2009 is their ability to run the ball with Mark Ingram and rookie Alvin Kamara.
This rushing attack takes a large amount of pressure off the passing offense and allows Drew Brees to run a very effective play-action.
If the Saints can run the ball better this week and wear the Vikings’ defense out, they will have a fantastic chance at this game.
The weather isn’t a factor and Minnesota’s defense is just too tough. Minnesota will get just enough offense and force Drew Brees into a late-game turnover.
Vikings 20, Saints 17
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