The Saints should be highly favored in how the teams match up on both sides of the ball.
The Vikings are at their best with a play-action offense, which stands to gain back all its members ahead of Sunday’s matchup. The Vikings likely will lean heavily on zone runs from Dalvin Cook to keep the offense two-dimensional and draw defenders in for deep play-action passes down the field.
At a glance, this warrants concern, as lack of depth at linebacker and the subsequent meltdown of play-action coverage was a key factor in New Orleans’ Week 14 loss to San Francisco.
In tandem with the 3rd-best rush defense in the league, the Saints should easily stifle zone runs and fall victim to fewer misreads from an experienced linebacker corp.
This leaves the Vikings to rely on the passing game and, accordingly, a shootout against Drew Brees. While the Saints’ secondary is a historic liability, Sean Payton has been aggressive in his Super Bowl pursuit this season.
The acquisition of Janoris Jenkins is a monumental upgrade from Eli Apple at this stage; Jenkins and Lattimore should be expected to lock down the deep ball threat enough to get by, which is all the Saints need from them. Apple has been ruled out of Sunday’s matchup.
As long as the secondary doesn’t actively hurt the team, they truly just need to keep them afloat in this type of matchup. Minnesota is just not San Francisco and the Saints won’t need to put up 48 points to win this one.
The Vikings share the same weakness as the Saints with abysmal coverage in their secondary, particularly at the cornerback position. Quite frankly, when you give Drew Brees a vulnerable secondary, this should be a no-brainer.
Minnesota might need to put up 35 points in order to win. With the Saints offense performing at their current level, this undoubtedly goes to the Saints should it be an offensive battle.