The Minnesota Vikings go into their Christmas Day game against the New Orleans Saints hoping for a miracle. If these Vikings win out the rest of the way against the Saints and apparently coachless Detroit Lions, and the Arizona Cardinals lose both of their divisional games (49ers/Rams) AND the Bears lose to either Jacksonville or Green Bay… AND Mars and Venus line up juuuuuuuust right… The Vikings could make the post-season for the second year in a row for the first time under Mike Zimmer.
That means that Friday’s game against the banged up Saints is of some importance. Or, at least of more importance than we all assumed after the Vikings laid an egg at home against Trubisky and the Bears.
If you hadn’t heard, we recently launched our first radio show on KDLM in Detroit Lakes/Fargo, and on yesterday’s show (it airs each Wednesday @ 7pm) co-host Mike Tice asked me what magic calculator I had that said the Vikings still had a shot at the playoffs.
Sure, it’s a long shot. So much so that I had to add a .CA to my Google search for any site/ source that gave the Vikings non-zero odds to make the post-season. While that lead me to the Best Canadian casinos for gambling online (Who’s up for s road trip?!?), it didn’t give me much hope that anyone outside of my purple bubble think the Vikings will be playing well into January.
The good news is that the Saints, once thought of as the class of the NFC, aren’t looking anywhere near as dangerous as we all thought they’d be when we circled December 25th on our calendar (apps).
Even before he suffered rib/lung damage a few weeks ago Drew Brees looked like age had finally caught up with him. He lost a ton of velocity on his throws and clearly missed Michael Thomas earlier this season.
The additional good news for the Vikings is that Thomas was put on IR for the rest of the season, so the Saints will have a rusty and over the hill AND still injured Brees throwing to guys like Emmanuel Sanders.
That doesn’t mean the Saints aren’t dangerous. Despite Brees struggling mightily last week against the Kansas City Chiefs, the Saints only lost by a field goal.
They have one of the best defenses in the league and get consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks, something that should put fear in the hearts of every Vikings fan as Kirk Cousins has been sacked 13 times in the last three weeks.
The Saints have a great run defense, and are pretty good against the pass as well. Dalvin Cook and company have overcome good run stopping defenses the last two weeks against the Bucs and Bears, but as we saw in both of those games it clearly wasn’t enough to walk away with the W.
The Vikings will, then, need a multi-faceted approach if they want to move the ball down the field. Justin Jefferson has been nigh unstoppable as of late and the Vikings will need him and Adam Thielen to have their best games of the season should the purple want to come together and deliver a Christmas present to all of us Vikings fans.
My main fear when the Saints have the ball is that they’ll spell Brees with mobile QB Taysom Hill. There’s a reason that Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky is undefeated against Zimmer’s Vikings, and it isn’t his ability to stand in the pocket and deliver darts.
Saints coach Sean Payton is savvy enough to have seen what Trubisky did last Sunday, so I fully expect to see a good amount of Hill tomorrow. Hopefully, though, they’ll limit Hill’s participation as they clearly want Brees to shake off that rust/internal organ damage in time for a WIDE open NFC playoff field.
As I’ve said ad nauseam this year, these Vikings are very hard to predict. I did predict they’d go 6-10 this season and that very well could happen. However, they’ve been in each of their last two losses until the end and I expect this game to be very similar.
Perhaps it’s the egg nog that I let ferment all year next to my furnace talking, but I think the Vikings will play these Saints well. There’s a reason why Zimmer has bested the Saints in the Vikings’ last two playoff appearances, and that was with Brees still being Brees and Michael Thomas having the best season for a wide receiver perhaps ever (from a PPR perspective).
With that in mind?
I’m picking the Vikings to upset the Saints in the Bayou.
Minnesota Vikings: 38
New Orleans Saints: 34
Merry Xmas to everyone! Happy Hanukkah! Stay safe and let’s SKOL get it!