The Vikings host the Saints at US Bank Stadium Sunday afternoon in the NFC Divisional round. The Zone Coverage staff got together to offer up their predictions of the game.
The first matchup between the Vikings and Saints was a comfortable 10-point win in which the Saints scored a late touchdown to make the final appear closer than it was. I think Sunday’s win, in contrast, will be closer than the final score indicates. I envision a lower-scoring, one-possession game into the fourth quarter with the Vikings engineering a game-sealing touchdown drive late to put them up by two scores. Vikings 27, Saints 13
Case Keenum struggles for most of the day but the Vikings defense is able to keep them in it. Then in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter, Keenum drives the Vikings down the field trailing by seven and gets a touchdown as a result. On comes Kai Forbath for the extra point to tie and send the game to overtime and…
Sorry about it. Saints 24, Vikings 23
Both teams will sports very hard, but ultimately, the Vikings will sports harder, winning the football sports match 24-17. Both teams will pass and run, kick and punt. It should be a good time. Vikings 24, Saints 17
The Vikings defense, unsurprisingly, is the key to this game. Good thing they’re really, really good. New Orleans is 2-4 when they score 20 or fewer points, and I think the Vikings can hold them down in a rowdy home playoff atmosphere. Vikings win, holding the Saints to their lowest scoring output of the year. Vikings 24, Saints 13
All this talk of a rematch with the New Orleans Saints, as the Vikings try and get redemption for that 31-28 overtime loss in the NFC Championship game in January 2010. What comes to mind? One of the best calls from Vikings radio broadcaster Paul Allen after Brett Favre’s interception in the closing seconds of the fourth quarter in a 28-28 game as the Vikings tried to get more into field-goal range.
(Deadpan voice) “Intercepted. I can’t believe what I’m seeing right now. …You’ve gotta be kidding me. I can’t believe what I just saw.” After Pete Bercich chimes in to analyze the play, Allen’s tone changed from calm to freak-out. “But why do you even ponder passing? I mean you can take a knee! And try a 56-yard field goal! This is not Detroit, man, this is the Super Bowl!”
As much as Vikings fans want redemption for that game, as much as they see the Vikings winning because of their great defense and home crowd, things can go south in a hurry. That’s why they play the games on the field, not on paper. Anyway, heartbreak and the Vikings — or Minnesota in general — go hand-in-hand. My casual-observer prediction: Saints 20, Vikings 16.
For me, it comes down to the Vikings just being the better team — not by a large margin, mind you — with the home-field advantage swinging things a bit more.
If the Vikings can shut down one of Alvin Kamara or Michael Thomas, they shouldn’t have a problem. Vikings 31, Saints 17
I’m wholly convinced the Vikings will go to the Super Bowl this year and lose to the Patriots. It’s the most heart-wrenching, Vikings-esque way to lose, so that’s the way it will happen. The Patriots don’t worry about the Vikings “Bring It Home” storyline, they just want another notch on their championship belt — reported infighting be damned — and they will get it.
But in order for that to happen, Minnesota has to get there first. As Arif wrote, the Saints are their biggest challenge this postseason. But as long as the accomplished Vikings defense can keep Drew Brees, Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram in check, Case Keenum can squeeze three touchdowns out of the offense. I expect Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs to show up when it counts and Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon to do enough to keep the offense balanced.
As long as they can keep the Saints under 20 points, they’ll win.
So why only 20 points for the Vikings when they score three touchdowns? You know Kai Forbath misses the final extra point — just to keep anxious Vikes fans on their toes heading into the NFC Championship game. Vikings 20, Saints 17
They have home-field advantage and the Vikings’ overall defensive performance should be enough to slow down Drew Brees while the offense does enough to find weaknesses in the Saints’ armor. Vikings 24, Saints 20
The Vikings have built up fans’ expectations a lot, but I don’t think they’ve built up the fans quite enough for maximum heartbreak yet. I think the Vikings out-defense the Saints today, before depriving their fans of a home super bowl by losing to the Eagles next week. Vikings 23, Saints 13
If the Vikings defense continues to play as well as it has over the past several weeks, this team could very well be heading to Philadelphia next week. Vikings 23, Saints 13
The Vikings will need to get Jerick McKinnon involved early, and often. He holds the key for a deep playoff push, both in the running and passing game. Vikings 21, Saints 20