Saints are much better than team Vikings whipped in Week 1

Annette Crawford
January 10, 2018

Minnesota and New Orleans will meet in the playoffs for the 4th time this Sunday.

Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints snuck past the Carolina Panthers 31-26 Sunday, setting up a divisional round matchup with the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium for January 14.

This sets up a matchup against teams with a bit of history. (33:00) How will Case Keenum handle his first playoff start?

Jerick McKinnon and Latavius Murray have shouldered the load in Cook's absence and have combined for 1,936 total yards from scrimmage (1,412 rushing). The main consistency in Minnesota was the defense. The defense as a whole was top ten in almost all major categories.

Offensively, the Saints have evolved as well, particularly with the emergence of versatile running back Alvin Kamara, who put up regular-season numbers (728 yards and 8 TDs rushing, 826 yards and 5 TDs receiving, and a kickoff return TD) worth of rookie-of-the-year consideration.

Both teams developed into NFC powers along the 2017 road. Together, the teammates amassed 3,000 all-purpose yards, a feat that has never been done before. Six others are injured: left guard Andrus Peat; right tackle Zach Strief; defensive end Alex Okafor; linebackers A.J. Klein and Alex Anzalone; and safety Kenny Vaccaro. Jordan sacked Bradford in the opener and has added 12 more since. He will be sure to make things tricky for the Vikings offense. For parts of Sunday, it looked like the Saints of old, from the struggling defense to the nonexistent running game to...

Williams, a third-year pro who missed almost all of his first two seasons with separate injuries, has two interceptions this season and saw increased playing time after Vaccaro's injuries. The Vikings boasted great defenses overs the years, but this unit is elite.

Both Newton and head coach Ron Rivera indicated after the game that he was poked in the eye and wasn't dealing with symptoms of a head injury. Look for multiple players, including Waynes and Barr, to lock onto Kamara to limit his production.

The story of the New Orleans Saints' surprisingly successful season was the long-awaited emergence of the roster around Drew Brees, after the star quarterback had nearly single-handedly led New Orleans to so many successful campaigns in the past. Obviously, that is still quite the threat, as Brees has been elite for a decade. Bradford having his best game of the year, and many saying one of the best of his career. Coverage by Rhodes almost guarantees limited production, as Rhodes has shut down All-Pro receivers consistently.

Brees, who threw for 376 yards against Carolina, is now leading a primarily spread attack with four receivers - Michael Thomas, Ted Ginn Jr., Willie Snead and Brandon Coleman - heavily involved. The main focus will be limiting Thomas, Ginn, and Kamara as Brees favorite targets. That loss stung because if they won they would have had a shot to host this game but instead they have to go to the daunting Superdome. If Zimmer's defense can limit the Saints playmakers, the Vikings should walk away victorious.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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