Sep 11, 2017; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen (19) stretches for a first down in the fourth quarter against the New Orleans Saints at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

NFL Divisional Round Preview: Saints Travel to Minnesota

Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints are hoping that Sunday’s divisional round game against the Minnesota Vikings will not be the last time they are at U.S. Bank Stadium this season.

The Saints will have to go through the Vikings to reach one step closer to Super Bowl LII.

This is the second time this year that New Orleans and the Vikings meet as they met all the way back in week one.

New Year, New Teams?

Both teams look much different from when they did back in September. The Vikings are almost unrecognizable. Their leading passer and rusher from that game will not be in uniform on Sunday.

Sam Bradford who threw for over 300 yards and three touchdowns in that Monday night football game is out. Dalvin Cook who started his promising rookie campaign with a 127-yard game is out for the season with a torn ACL.

The Saints will be coming back with a deadly running game that they did not have in that week one match-up. At the beginning of the season, Saints head coach Sean Payton was having a hard time balancing the trio of Adrian Peterson, Alvin Kamara, and Mark Ingram. Peterson has since then been traded to the Arizona Cardinals while Kamara and Ingram become one of the deadliest duos in the league.

Nov 19, 2017; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints running backs Mark Ingram (22) and Alvin Kamara (41) celebrate Kamara’s touchdown in the fourth quarter against the Washington Redskins at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Saints won, 34-31 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

How They Got Here

New Orleans went on to sport a 10-4 overall record after that week one loss because of it’s improved defense and rushing attack.

The Saints defense was a laughing stock a year ago as they ranked 27th in the league in yards given up. This season, they jumped 10 spots to 17th.

New Orleans has given opposing defensive coordinators nightmares with their fierce run game. Both Ingram and Kamara have combined for a total of 20 touchdowns this season.

The Vikings are being led by Case Keenum who threw for more than 3500 yards and 22 touchdowns since Bradford sustained his injury. Keenum has had a lot of success connecting with wide receiver Adam Thielen who is enjoying a breakout season. Thielen caught four touchdowns and has more than 1200 receiving yards.

Dec 31, 2017; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Case Keenum (7) against the Chicago Bears at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

A Trip to The NFC Championship On The Line

Sunday’s game is a big one from a historical view as well.

The Saints will be trying to punch their ticket to their 3rd conference championship in franchise history while the Vikings will be trying to appear in the game for the ninth time. Unlike the Saints, the Vikings haven’t had much success in the NFC Championship as they are 3-5 in the league semi-final.

Kick-off from U.S. Bank Stadium is set for 4:40 p.m Sunday. The game will be televised on FOX and can be heard on ESPN 98.1 FM, WRUF 850 AM.

About Danny Villanueva

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