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Minnesota Vikings vs. New Orleans Saints Preview and Predictions 01-05-2020
The New Orleans Saints have absorbed heartbreaking losses in each of the past two postseasons but they will get a chance to avenge one of those defeats in NFC wild-card round. The third-seeded Saints, coming off their third consecutive NFC South title, will host the sixth-seeded Minnesota Vikings on Sunday afternoon in a rematch of the "Minneapolis Miracle."
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A non-call on an obvious pass-interference penalty denied New Orleans a trip to the Super Bowl last season, which came one year after the Vikings shocked the Saints with a 61-yard touchdown pass on the final play of the game in January 2018. "If anything, it adds a chip on our shoulders. It adds a little bit more of a determination factor," said defensive end Cam Jordan, who was wearing a cap that read Saints vs. everybody" while addressing the media. "You have to want it each and every time you take the field. You've only got so many opportunities." Minnesota, which was in the mix for the NFC North title until a loss to Green Bay in Week 16, is surrounded by constant reminders of the victory two years ago with images of the "Miracle" touchdown catch and run by Stefon Diggs adorning the team's facility. "We know. We know what's at stake," running back Dalvin Cook said, downplaying any motivation that the memory provides. "It's playoff football, we've got to go. If that can't get you going, I don't think a picture can do it."
TIME: 1:05 p.m. ET. TV: FOX. LINE: Saints -8 O/U: 50
ABOUT THE VIKINGS (10-6): Minnesota rested a number of starters in a meaningless loss to Chicago last week, but the biggest plus is the return of Cook, who rushed for 1,135 yards and 13 touchdowns before a shoulder injury shelved him for the final two games. Cook also had 53 receptions to finish second on the team to Diggs, who went over 1,000 yards for the second straight season and was one of three Vikings receivers with six touchdown receptions. Kirk Cousins finished with a career-high 107.4 passer rating after throwing for 26 touchdowns versus only six interceptions. Danielle Hunter racked up 14.5 sacks for a defense that ranked fifth in the league, allowing an average of 18.9 points.
ABOUT THE SAINTS (13-3): Drew Brees missed five games early in the season due to a thumb injury but he enters the playoffs on a roll, earning NFC's Offensive Player of the Month after a spectacular December in which he had 15 touchdown passes and zero picks while compiling a 137.0 passer rating. Wideout Michael Thomas is the top target for Brees after shattering the NFL single-season record with 149 catches, including nine games with at least 10. Running back Alvin Kamara's numbers were down across the board but he still rushed for nearly 800 yards and had 81 receptions for the third straight season. The Saints ranked fourth overall against the run, permitting 91.3 yards per game.
1. Brees had 15 touchdown passes versus three interceptions in his last six playoff games at home.
2. Diggs has at least 90 receiving yards and a touchdown in the last three versus New Orleans, including playoffs.
3. Saints TE Jared Cook has seven TD catches in his last seven games while Vikings TE Kyle Rudolph has five TD receptions in his last five on the road.
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Key Players to Watch
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New Orleans Saints
- AnkleQues Sun | questionable
Peat left the previous game due to a high-ankle injury, and it is undetermined if he will line up Sunday versus the Lions.
- CalfQues Sun | questionable
Onyemata was held out of the last game with an injury to his calf, and it is uncertain if he will take the field versus the Lions on Sunday.
- AnkleQues Sun | questionable
Thomas suffered left high-ankle sprain, and it has yet to be established if he will return against the Lions on Sunday.
- ElbowQues Sun | questionable
Davenport has sat out the past three games with an elbow injury, and it is unclear if he will make his season debut Sunday against the Lions.
- GroinQues Sun | questionable
Cook departed the last game with a groin injury, and it is uncertain if he will face the Lions on Sunday.
- HamstringOut indefinitely | I-R
Montgomery has been designated for the injured reserve list with a hamstring injury, and it is unknown when he team will bring him back.
- HipQues Sun | questionable
Hansen has sat out the previous two games due to a hip injury, and it is unknown if he will return against the Lions on Sunday.
- IllnessQues Sun | questionable
Jenkins is suffering from an unspecified illness, leaving his status for Sunday's tilt with the Lions up in the air.
- NeckQues Sun | questionable
Hughes sat out the previous game due to a neck injury, and it is unknown if he will suit up against the Texans on Sunday.
- RibsQues Sun | questionable
Dantzler has missed the past two games with injured ribs, and it is unclear if he will return Sunday versus the Texans.
- FootOut indefinitely | I-R
Dye has been assigned to the injured reserve list with a mid-foot sprain, and it is unknown how long he will be debilitated.
- AnkleQues Sun | questionable
Reiff is dealing with an ankle injury, and it is undetermined if he will be in Sunday's lineup versus the Titans.
- HamstringQues Sun | questionable
Boyd is hobbled by a hamstring injury, and it remains to be seen if he will participate in Sunday's tilt versus the Titans.
- ConcussionQues Sun | questionable
Boone left the last game to be evaluated for a concussion and did not return. It is unknown if he will be cleared in time for Sunday's matchup against the Titans.
- PectoralI-R | I-R
Barr has been added to the injured reserve list due to a torn pectoral muscle.
- NeckOut indefinitely | I-R
Hunter has landed on the injured reserve list due to a neck injury, and he will miss an extended period.