Preview: Saints at Vikings
The New Orleans Saints will not soon forget their last visit to Minnesota, a game that ended in one of the most dramatic finishes in league history and denied them a trip to the NFC Championship Game. The Saints have a chance for a little payback in a rematch against the Vikings, taking a five-game winning streak into Sunday night’s matchup.
New Orleans coach Sean Payton attempted to play down the revenge angle from last season’s “Minneapolis Miracle” — when Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs scored on a 61-yard touchdown pass as time expired for a stunning 29-24 victory. “It wasn’t like there was bad blood when the game was over or anything like that,” Payton said. “Two teams fought hard and made a play at the end that ended up costing us the game. … This is a new team playing this ‘18 season and for different reasons.” Minnesota has overcome a slow start to rattle off three consecutive wins to move atop a tightly bunched NFC North, but is understandably wary of Saints quarterback Drew Brees. “This guy’s amazing,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said. “I always thought when you talk about Hall of Fame quarterbacks, obviously he’s going to be one, but he’s very cerebral, accurate.”
TV: 8:20 p.m. ET, NBC. LINE: Pick. O/U: 52
ABOUT THE SAINTS (5-1): Brees reached a pair of major milestones this season, becoming the NFL’s all-time leading passer and the third quarterback to throw for 500 touchdowns. Brees has 13 scoring passes and zero interceptions for a league-leading passer rating (121.6) and has a special connection with wide receiver Michael Thomas, who is tied for third in the league with 53 catches for 588 yards and four touchdowns. Running back Alvin Kamara is a dangerous two-way threat for New Orleans, rushing for 363 yards and six scores while adding 40 catches and a touchdown. The Saints, who have the league’s top-ranked rushing defense (72.3 yards), acquired cornerback Eli Apple from the Giants this week.
ABOUT THE VIKINGS (4-2-1): Dalvin Cook has missed much of the season but Minnesota finally got its ground game untracked over the past two games as Latavius Murray rushed for 224 yards and all three of his touchdowns. That has taken some of the onus off quarterback Kirk Cousins, but it hasn’t prevented wide receiver Adam Thielen from joining Charley Hennigan as the only players in league history to have at least 100 yards in each of the first seven games of the season. Thielen, the league leader in yards (822) and catches (67), and Diggs (48 receptions) provide a 1-2 punch for Cousins, who has thrown for 14 TDs and three interceptions. Minnesota’s defense ranks 16th against the pass (256.1 yards).
1. Cousins has passed for 646 yards and seven TDs in two meetings against New Orleans.
2. Brees has nine touchdown passes and zero interceptions in his last four games against Minnesota.
3. Vikings DE Danielle Hunter is tied for the NFL lead with 8.0 sacks.