The Minnesota Vikings’ 29-19 Week 1 victory over the New Orleans Saints seems like ages ago. Sam Bradford was Minnesota’s signal-caller that day, and he connected early and often with wideouts Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen, who torched the Saints secondary. New Orleans couldn’t get much going on offense all game and was down 26-9 early in the fourth quarter before scoring 10 late points.
Although the Saints have fared well against tight ends this year (per Football Outsiders, they allowed only 36.2 yards per game to the position), tight end Kyle Rudolph is a tough matchup. The 6’6″, 265-pounder has 57 catches for 532 yards and eight touchdowns. He’s the team’s premier red-zone pass-catching threat and has scored 21 times over the past three years.
Sunday, January 14, at 4:40 p.m. ET on Fox and Fox Sports Go: No. 4 New Orleans Saints at No. 2 Minnesota Vikings
But the Vikings have the offensive weapons to avoid those players. For example, quick passes to running back Jerrick McKinnon out of the backfield could go a long way toward winning this game.
Case Keenum, Jerrick McKinnon and Kyle Rudolph Lead Vikings to Victory
New Orleans’ defense is much improved since then, however, and Case Keenum is now leading the Viking charge after Bradford suffered a knee injury.
The other problem the Saints have is that they have to keep their heads on a swivel: The Vikings also have two fantastic wideouts in Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen in addition to running back Latavius Murray, who has scored eight times. It will be hard for them to contain everybody, and the guess here is that Rudolph and McKinnon are the ones who take advantage.
For those scoring at home, the Saints have now allowed four players to hit 100 receiving yards in the past two weeks, in addition to giving up 300-yard performances to quarterbacks in each contest.