The New Orleans Saints are enjoying a five game winning streak — beating the Buccaneers, Falcons, Giants, Lions, and Titans — with four of these five teams currently in playoff contention. The Saints future is bright, and next up are the struggling Minnesota Vikings.
It’s a game the Saints are supposed to win considering the Vikings have stumbled to a 2-11 record under the guidance of first year (officially, interim in 2010) head coach Leslie Frazier.
That doesn’t mean it’s a gimme, after all it was only six weeks ago when the Saints traveled to face the St. Louis Rams in another game they were supposed to win.
They however lost after putting up a miserable performance on both sided of the ball.
Minnesota acquired quarterback Donovan McNabb in a trade with the Washington Redskins prior to the start of the season, exchanging a 2012 sixth round pick to secure his services.
McNabb’s addition was supposed to immediately boost the team in the post Brett Favre era, but their plan failed rather quickly after he was benched in favor of rookie quarterback Christian Ponder due to ineffectiveness.
Ponder has played well enough to give Vikings fans hope for the future, and well enough that the team felt comfortable enough to grant McNabb his request to be released.
However last week against the Lions Ponder was benched in the third quarter after committing his fourth turnover of the game.
But the Vikings may be getting some good news prior to their game with the Saints as running back Adrian Peterson, and Ponder, should be in the starting lineup.
Peterson suffered a high ankle sprain and ligament damage three weeks ago during the Vikings game against the Oakland Raiders.
In his absence running back Toby Gerhart took over the bulk of the carries but was not nearly as effective as Peterson, one of the NFL’s best and most productive running backs when healthy.
For the Vikings getting him back in the lineup is a huge boost to the offense and presents a unique challenge for the Saints when it comes to keeping him contained.
But the Saints defense should be able to find success against Peterson as they have stiffened up against the run over recent weeks.
Last Sunday the defense was able to limit Titans running back Chris Johnson to only 23 rushing yards, this after he rushed for nearly 500 yards in the three games prior to facing New Orleans.
Ponder barely practiced last week because of a hip pointer prior to facing the Lions, and it was likely a combination of the injury and lack of practice that contributed to his poor performance.
The Saints however are very healthy and the only players in jeopardy of missing the game are running back Mark Ingram and outside linebacker Jonathan Casillas.
Ingram is likely healthy enough to play, but the Saints can afford to sit him with three other healthy running backs on the roster while he recovers from a mild case of turf toe.
Casillas sat out last weeks game with a right knee injury and no time table has been given for his return to the practice field.