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Canadian Saint

Wild Card Weekend: New Orleans Saints (13-3) vs. Minnesota Vikings (10-6): Welcome to the madness

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So now it begins. We enter the NFL Playoffs, 3 games away from the promised land. Standing in our way are the Minnesota Vikings. A team with a rivalry that began in 2009. A playoff game where then Minnesota legend Brett Favre led Vikings were beaten thoroughly by Drew Brees and the Saints, and with that the Vikings window to contend closed. We of course won the superbowl in Miami 3 games later. History may be nice enough to repeat itself. Beat the Vikings and slam their current contending window shut, on route to Miami and a second superbowl. The added benefit, is the Saints, especially Marcus Williams, will be out for a little revenge. The Minneapolis Miracle, cited as one of the top moments in Minnesota sports in the past decade (and apparently injuring Aaron Rodgers...for some peculiar reason) will still cause a little sting. It would allow members of that team to really put to rest some of these memories.

 

Coaches Corner:

- Lets start with Injuries. Thursday's injury report for the Saints is good. CB Eli Apple and FB Zach Line are the only two who did not practice. Everyone else, including SS Vonn Bell, FS Marcus Williams and WR Michael Thomas were full participants. For the Vikings, outstanding LB Erik Kendricks was LP on Thursday, as was CB Hughes and DE Odenigbo. DE Weatherly, CB Alexander and S Sandejo were all DNP. Apart from Kendricks, I'm not sure the importance of the other players, so maybe a visiting Vikings fan can fill us in.

- For the Saints, I think how well this game will go will depend on the D. The Vikings offense is definitely dependent on play action, and that means establishing the run with talented RB Dalvin Cook. If the Saints can neutralize the run, then I think we have a good chance at limiting the damage Kirk Cousins can do. Yes they have Theilen and Diggs, both very capable WR, and Lattimore can only cover one.

- Required reading: https://www.footballoutsiders.com/film-room/2020/film-room-vikings-play-action

Nice little article about our secondary's ability to stop the Vikings offense and play action. It's a longer read, but I think it's insightful.

- On offense, well it's more keep doing what you're doing really. Brees and the O have really stepped it up since the 49ers game. We have a healthy offense across the board. Which should serve us well against a Mike Zimmer led defense. A key match up to watch is MT vs. Xavier Rhodes. From what I can recall, he's had an up and down season. He shut down Julio Jones earlier this season, but struggled in other parts. We'll see how he does against CGM.

- My wildcard player for us is going to be Deonte Harris. I think he's really galvanized the team with his returns, and I think he's due to a TD.

 

No prediction due to the superstition, but I think we pull it off.

 

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I think this is going to be a closer game than people think.  I know I say that a lot, but I think Vikings are the best team other than us playing on wildcard weekend.  And we have a recent history of not playing well against them, especially on offense.  

The Kirk Cousins that plays like a frightened little child never seems to show up against us.  We're gonna have to get pressure on him, which we can do, but if we don't, we very well may lose.  I just don't see us putting up a lot of points here.  We'll see which oline shows up for us, the one that kills drives with holding calls, or the one that gives Brees time to dissect any defense.

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Posted (edited)

The Vikings are better than both the Seahawks and Eagles. Who ever wins that game will get abused in the division round. Saints should win this game...theyre the better team playing at home. But the Vikings can still win, no question. 

Edited by sammymvpknight

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Hard to get enthusiastic after the last two years. IDK. I want a Super Bowl and anything short of that will be a disappointment, and it just seems like the cards are stacked too high against us.

I got hope, but I'm prepared to be disappointed again.

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Good luck Saints fans.  It should be a good game.  May the best team win!

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That Vikings defense certainly is a stout one! I have to think, though, who do they cover?

You absolutely have to double-team Michael Thomas. They have the ability to do that with Xavier Rhodes and Harrison Smith. Smith is likely one of the best safeties in the league. That brings up, who else do you cover heavy? Kamara? Cook? T. Smith? Ginn deep? Murray up the middle? Oh, then Taysom Hill.

Our offense, especially in the playoffs, won't really have me nervous. Where I'm nervous is, what defense is going to show up? Are we going to be in shutdown mode, or illegal hands-to-the-face mode? Are we going to blow coverages, or are our newly acquired d-backs going to play exactly the way we expected them to when we brought them on board?

I think the nice thing is, the Vikings really don't know how to plan for our defense. It's a new-look defensive secondary that has only played a portion of one game together. This could be a blessing or a curse. I happen to think it'll be a blessing. You absolutely know our secondary is ultra focused this week. Hopefully they keep it together and limit missed assignments.

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wonder what Marcus Williams is thinking right now. I'm expecting a huge game from him.

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12 hours ago, Destructo Spin said:

Hard to get enthusiastic after the last two years. IDK. I want a Super Bowl and anything short of that will be a disappointment, and it just seems like the cards are stacked too high against us.

I got hope, but I'm prepared to be disappointed again.

I've got some good news for ya, Arizona ain't even in the playoffs! :D

I don't know what to think at this point, for all the playoff heartbreak the Saints have only ever had a first round exit once but that was also the stupidest thing of all time. It's been a long time since this team was laughed out of the playoffs (Chicago, '06) and even that was a 4 point game entering the fourth, so win or lose I expect Payton will have this team ready to fight tooth and nail and if Minnesota wins it will be because they earned it. 

And lord help me if the Saints get some questionable or downright ugly calls in their favor and I catch any of you smugly parroting the same rhetoric the Rams fans gave us last year. Quietly acknowledge our good fortune and move on xD

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11 minutes ago, Fray32 said:

And lord help me if the Saints get some questionable or downright ugly calls in their favor and I catch any of you smugly parroting the same rhetoric the Rams fans gave us last year. Quietly acknowledge our good fortune and move on xD

Or even worse, we lose due to a bad call and I have to listen to never ending whining all offseason.

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42 minutes ago, Jlowe22 said:

Or even worse, we lose due to a bad call and I have to listen to never ending whining all offseason.

This ^^ made me literally ignore football for months. I think I watched about 1/4 of the Super Bowl, and then did some vacuuming, and other miscellaneous work to keep my mind off another missed ring opportunity. Ugh. 

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I said in a different thread that this game will be closer than most think it will be. In betting terms, I'd take Minnesota at anything +5 or higher. Not because I think they're going to win but because I don't think the Saints will cover that spread. Part of that is because this game isn't about talent for me, it's about coaching.

Speaking purely to how the end of this season has gone, the Saints should be (and are) the clear favorites here. Look at Minnesota's game against Green Bay two weeks ago. That's about as lackluster a performance as a team can possibly provide against a hated rival, with the division on the line, at home. It looked like they didn't even care. Imagine now that our Atlanta loss came in week 16 instead of way back after our bye. Would we still be favored so heavily, despite winning the division? I think not. It's hard to limp into the postseason that way and be effective. Losing like that takes air out of you, takes fight out of you. But no. We have faced adversity in a lot of ways but have generally beaten our opponents comfortably and lost one game (SF) by a very high and very close score.

Speaking to talent, none of the above makes any sense. The Vikings are as good as we are talent-wise, better in a lot of areas, particularly on defense. They just don't play like it for reasons I don't fully understand. If they'd played to their potential this year, Green Bay would be coming to visit us while the Vikings rested at home. We'd be talking instead about visiting Minnesota again, on the road, to try to exorcise the demons from the Miracle in their house. But here we are, facing a very talented 6ft seed that's far superior to the 4th and 5th seeds but somehow coming to visit us instead.

So coaching. I think their problems have a lot to do with it, but that's an outsider opinion and I really haven't watched (m)any of their games this year. Generally, though, with their level of talent, only leadership explains the gap fully. In our case, our coaching has thus far been excellent, but this is where it gets truly tested. How mad are we about the last two years? Will it affect us? The "Minnesota Miracle" will be played on a loop in this game, every Saint that takes a microphone will be asked about it. What happens if the Vikings jump out to a 14 or 21-0 lead like they did last time we met them in the playoffs? Can we recover again or will we just be angry? This will be our first test of anger management I think, overcoming bad penalties, overcoming a hot start by a team that's been dissed and abandoned for dead in the media (and by the NFL) for the last week. Make no mistake, the Vikings are p***ed and they usually play pretty strongly against us without the extra motivation. It's also worth remembering that we don't want to be here. We're 13-3, we shouldn't be playing Sunday, shouldn't be going on the road if we win. Can we overcome that, too? I think this game turns on how well we are coached and how well we respond to / recover from adversity.

So all of those things make me think this will be close, maybe even coming down to the final possession of the game. I'd love to be wrong and have us just win comfortably. Maybe that's how it'll go. After all, if you ran this game through a simulator 10 times we'd win 7-8 of those, a few by staggering margins. As a long-time Saints fan, though, I tend to expect the 2-3 where it's close or we don't win more than I expect the 7 where it's easy. Regardless, I promise you that most teams in the AFC and NFC are Vikings fans on Sunday. Nobody wants to see us. If we do win here and then go on to win in Green Bay, woe unto the rest of the playoff field.

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16 hours ago, Destructo Spin said:

I want a Super Bowl

So do Vikings fans, at least you guys have one!

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21 hours ago, Canadian Saint said:

For the Vikings, outstanding LB Erik Kendricks was LP on Thursday, as was CB Hughes and DE Odenigbo. DE Weatherly, CB Alexander and S Sandejo were all DNP. Apart from Kendricks, I'm not sure the importance of the other players, so maybe a visiting Vikings fan can fill us in.

The biggest development in this is that Hughes was placed on IR and Alexander has been ruled OUT.

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21 hours ago, Canadian Saint said:

From what I can recall, he's had an up and down season. He shut down Julio Jones earlier this season, but struggled in other parts. We'll see how he does against CGM.

Up-and-down is putting it generously. Many of us expect him to be playing his last game(s) for the Vikings.

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1 hour ago, nolaexpat said:

Speaking purely to how the end of this season has gone, the Saints should be (and are) the clear favorites here. Look at Minnesota's game against Green Bay two weeks ago. That's about as lackluster a performance as a team can possibly provide against a hated rival, with the division on the line, at home. It looked like they didn't even care. Imagine now that our Atlanta loss came in week 16 instead of way back after our bye. Would we still be favored so heavily, despite winning the division? I think not. It's hard to limp into the postseason that way and be effective. Losing like that takes air out of you, takes fight out of you. But no. We have faced adversity in a lot of ways but have generally beaten our opponents comfortably and lost one game (SF) by a very high and very close score.

Speaking to talent, none of the above makes any sense. The Vikings are as good as we are talent-wise, better in a lot of areas, particularly on defense. They just don't play like it for reasons I don't fully understand. If they'd played to their potential this year, Green Bay would be coming to visit us while the Vikings rested at home. We'd be talking instead about visiting Minnesota again, on the road, to try to exorcise the demons from the Miracle in their house. But here we are, facing a very talented 6ft seed that's far superior to the 4th and 5th seeds but somehow coming to visit us instead.

So coaching. I think their problems have a lot to do with it, but that's an outsider opinion and I really haven't watched (m)any of their games this year. Generally, though, with their level of talent, only leadership explains the gap fully.

You make some solid points here. 

The Vikings forum is pretty split on Zimmer and his future. Some point to his success in the regular season (~.600+ winning percentage) while others points towards his inability to win the big game(s) or even have the team ready to play.

A lot of us are curious as to which team will show up on Sunday afternoon. It is one thing to lose a playoff game it is entirely unacceptable to be unprepared and get embarrassed i.e. Philadelphia NFCCG.

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