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The Last time the Minnesota Vikings and the New Orleans Saints got together for a playoff match-up, the result was nothing less than spectacular. The 2020 version of this contest could provide the same type of explosive outcome.
The Vikings have backed into the playoffs, losing the last two games of the regular season. The Saints on the other hand have won three games in a row and six out of seven games heading into the postseason.
Keys To The Game:
The Vikings will get back running back Dalvin Cook after missing those final two regular season games with a shoulder injury. They will need to deploy him and Alexander Mattison as much as possible.
Keeping the ball on the ground will keep the time of possession in the Vikings’ favor. It will also keep the New Orleans secondary peeking in the backfield, so Kirk Cousins and Stefon Diggs could hit some big plays deep.
The defense will have to somehow make the Saints’ offense slow. The Vikings will need to jam the receivers, tight ends and running backs out the backfield. They will also need to get a good push right up the middle of the offensive line.
Putting defenders right in the middle of Drew Brees’ passing lanes is one of the best ways to stifle the record setting quarterback. Minnesota does a great job of flipping mistakes into turnovers, so they need to make the tackles hard and the blitzing fierce.
The Saints should go right after the edge of Minnesota’s defense. Yes, the Vikings have a good secondary, but Brees and Michael Thomas should attack as much as possible.
Spreading out the Vikings defense will open up big plays for Jared Cook and Alvin Kamara. That approach could also lead to more pass interference and defensive holding penalties.
Putting up a 10-14 point lead early will throw Minnesota in come back mode. That will take away the Vikings’ rushing attack and keep them pass heavy, which is a time they are prone to turnovers.
The Saints’ defense will have to keep an eye on the middle of the field. The Vikings can run up some big plays with short catches across the middle turned up field for touchdowns.
New Orleans limits it’s opponents rushing attempts, usually because they are ahead and the opponent is playing catch up. That formula should bode well for them in this contest.
The x-factor for Minnesota is fullback C.J. Ham. While Cook and Diggs get all the headlines, Ham is the key to this running game. He lead blocks for Cook and can be effective when Minnesota hands him the ball.
The x-factor for New Orleans is tight end Jared Cook. Cook caught fire when Brees returned from injury. While Minnesota focuses on Thomas and Kamara, Cook can burn them down the seam.
The Saints should be able to pull this win out, but it could be close. 31-23 New Orleans.