Sean Payton

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Sean Payton knows Vikings are much more than a defensive team

Minnesota only allows 16 points, while scoring 24 points per game

Steve Geller
January 10, 2018 - 12:20 pm
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We’re 4 days away from the big NFC Divisional Playoff match-up between the Saints and the Vikings. This will be the 4th time New Orleans will face Minnesota in the postseason, and a win for the Black & Gold would even the series up at two games apiece.
 
The Vikings are the top overall defense in the NFL as Minnesota defenders have acted like a purple wall around the end zone this year, surrendering only 16 points per game. Their offense gets overlooked, but are a top tier unit. Minny has averaged 24 points a game, which is 10th best in the league. It’s a bit of a surprise, since they have played with their back-up at quarterback for 15 of their 16 games this season.

QB Case Keenum has been the guy for the Vikes after Sam Bradford sliced apart the Saints secondary in week 1. Keenum is playing in his 5th season since going undrafted out of Houston. He started out with the Texans, then the Rams and in his 1st season with the Vikings has completed 68% of his passes for 3,547 yards with 22 touchdowns versus just 7 interceptions. 

“He’s playing well. You can see him getting the ball to a lot of different guys,” Saints coach Sean Payton said. “The thing that is impressive about him is not only on the spot, but off the spot. You know; his location when he is moving.”

Keenum has four main targets. Wide receivers Adam Theilen and Stefon Diggs have combined for 155 catches and 12 TDs.

“They’re talented. One’s going to the Pro Bowl (Theilen), the other guy takes the top off the coverage (Diggs), he’s fantastic himself.”

3rd on the team in receptions is tight end Kyle Rudolph. The 28 year old out of Notre Dame is 6ft6, 259 pounds and has hauled in 8 TDs this season. We saw the Saints have difficulty slowing down Panthers TE Gregg Olsen last week, so Rudolph could be a serious concern. 

“He’s a big part of what they do”, says Payton. “Watching where this quarterback goes and how he targets players, I think Rudolph gives you someone through the defense. I think he’s someone that can get on a safety or linebacker and give you problems.” 

The Vikings other big threat in the passing game is running back Jerick McKinnon. He tallied 521 receptions for 421 yards while adding 570 yards on the ground. McKinnon has found his way into the endzone 5 times total. Minnesota’s main runner is Latavius Murray who was added in free agency in the offseason after 4 years with the Raiders. 

Murray has done great filling the void of 2nd round draft pick Dalvin Cook, who was lost for the season due to a torn ACL in week 4. On the season Murray has gained 842 yards on 216 carries and has scored 8 times.   

The Saints defense has improved greatly since the season opener and will need to come up big on the road for the Black & Gold to have a chance at advancing onto the NFC championship game. 

 

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