NFC Game Of The Week

New Orleans Saints at Minnesota Vikings

Saints: I remember after that first game of the season, people threw in the towel on the Saints and said that last year was a fluke and that would be it for them. I think they took that personally because the Saints are on a roll and ever since that opening weekend loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, they have been one of the hottest teams in football and sit atop the NFC South with a 5-1 record. You never write off a team with Drew Brees as your quarterback and he’s off to a fast start with 13 touchdown passes so far thrown this year. Their win in Baltimore was by far their most impressive and I can explain and back up my statement. First, this isn’t your average dome team. They can change up their entire offensive gameplan and become a ground team to control the clock and as a defense, they can match their opponents’ intensity and that’s EXACTLY what they did against the Ravens. They don’t just win the shootouts and the high-scoring ballgames, they can also grind out the close battles such as what they did on Sunday. The other day I tweeted that the NFC is wide open at this point and I think at this moment, the Saints are the second best team in the NFC behind, of course, the Los Angeles Rams and at this point, I think they may be the only team in the NFC that can challenge them but anything can change. The Saints will look to extend their winning streak where their season came to an abrupt end just nine months ago.

Vikings: I really didn’t know what to make of them for a while because, after the game that ended in a tie against the Green Bay Packers, things started to go south for them and it looked like their season was beginning to spiral out of control because after I saw them get absolutely destroyed by the Buffalo Bills in week three, I was at a loss for words. They fought hard after in Los Angeles against the Rams but fell short. They really saved their season in the NFC Title game rematch against the Philadelphia Eagles and since then, they’ve won their last three games and sit in first place in the NFC North. A lot of people questioned the Vikings decision to sign Kirk Cousins and I don’t get why because he’s not a bad quarterback and I’m not saying that he’s a top tier guy like Rodgers, Brady, and Brees, but he’s good and so far, he’s playing unbelievable football. He’s thrown 14 touchdown passes and only three picks and he’s developed a really nice chemistry with his receiving core which leads me to my next point. Last year, I raved about Adam Thielen. This year, he’s picking up exactly where he left off and he’s recorded 100 yards receiving in each of the Vikings seven games which set an NFL record. When they were struggling, I looked at the defense as a major issue because they were having a hard time getting off the field and the Vikings defense is at its best when they’re limiting the offense, getting a takeaway and putting pressure on the quarterback. They’ll look to keeping the winning streak alive with a win on Sunday night.

Saints Player To Watch: Alex Okafor– He’s the guy that plays on the opposite of Cameron Jordan and just like his fellow defensive end, he can rush the passer and he stops the run. If he isn’t blocked up front, he can wreak havoc.

Vikings Player To Watch: Latavius Murray– Ever since Dalvin Cook went down with another injury, he’s come in and given them a lot of balance and consistency in the running game. He isn’t the quickest or the flashiest, he just gets the job done.

Final Analysis: The last time these two teams played, it was in the playoffs and we saw a total of four lead changes in the fourth quarter by itself. Then came the play to remember and Stefon Diggs took it to the house for 61 yards and a trip to the NFC title game. Although it was a heartbreaking way to lose a game, that’s one of the best playoff games I had ever seen in all my years of watching football. Nine months later, they meet again and both teams are rolling right now. This game features two great wide receivers in Michael Thomas and Adam Thielen. Neither team has been the greatest defensively, so I expect to see a lot of points scored in this one. The Saints must limit this Vikings receiving trio in the red-zone and their front seven must be ready to handle a physical offensive line of Minnesota. If I’m the Vikings, I’m rushing four and dropping seven back in order to slow down Brees and I’d be doing all I can to really make sure Kamara doesn’t get into a rhythm.

Prediction: Saints 31 Vikings 28