The most notorious threats the No. 6 Minnesota Vikings have is running back Dalvin Cook and quarterback Kirk Cousins. How will the No. 3 New Orleans Saints contain them?
The New Orleans Saints boast a top-five rushing defense in the entire NFL. Pair that with a top 15 passing defense and you have a top-five overall defense in the NFL. However, can our top defense sustain the power of Dalvin Cook and a hot Kirk Cousins?
Kirk Cousins might not be a household name, but he silently threw for 3,603 yards and 26 touchdowns this year, performing terrifically the second half of 2019. That is good enough to rank 16th in the NFL in passing yards and 10th in the NFL in total passing touchdowns.
You are either going to get one of two Kirk Cousins to come Sunday. You will get 98 yards, one touchdown, two interceptions, sacked six times, Kirk Cousins or you will get 337 yards and four touchdowns zero interceptions, Kirk Cousins.
Dalvin Cook was one of the top running backs straight out of the gate this year. He was the No. 1 rusher in the league for a good part of the year. He finished the year with 1,135 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns. He also added 53 receptions for 519 receiving yards.
The combined manpower of the two of them is not enough to overpower the defense of the New Orleans Saints, but they should not be taken lightly and if the Saints slack off on defense because they think they can; these two will come back to bite them.
The key to stopping Kirk Cousins is getting into his face and making him feel the pressure to release the ball early. That is going to fall on the hands of Trey Hendrickson, Sheldon Rankins, and Cameron Jordan to make him feel that type of pressure.
The secondary of Marshon Lattimore, Vonn Bell, Patrick Robinson, and Janoris Jenkins will then need to pick up the errors caused by the front seven as well as keep Stefon Diggs and Adam Theilen quite throughout the day.
The front seven’s job becomes twofold when you add in the running skills of Dalvin Cook. Not only do they have to focus on getting pressure to Kirk Cousins, they simultaneously have to contain one of the best running backs in the NFL.
Good thing they just got practice with Christian McCaffrey. In the two games they played against Christian McCaffrey, they held him to 90 combined yards on the ground. The only time Dalvin Cook has rushed against a top 10 rushing defense, he finished with 35 yards.
The New Orleans Saints better come ready for a battle, but as long as they are ready and not underperforming, this game will be a breeze. I predict Cook to finish under 100 yards and Cousins to throw for under 200 yards and an interception.