Most concerning team stat for Saints: Vikes 2nd ranked run DE, Vikes 2nd ranked pass DE, or Vikes 3rd Down ranking (3rd on O, 1st on DE)?— Inside Saints (@InsideSaints) January 11, 2018
It's probably all one in the same.
The Vikings probably have so much success on third down because they're so good on every other down. The third downs are likely a symptom of success on the first two downs. But that is a little concerning considering New Orleans has had so many struggles in this area throughout the year.
The whole game is going to be challenging. I think the key is scoring 24 points. It's doubtful you can get much higher against the Vikings' defense. Then the New Orleans defense has to hold.
Nick do the Saints stand a realistic chance in this one? With 20 on IR including key pieces to the OL, DL, LB, S, I’d love to embrace the next man up mentality, but it appears we may be outmatched in this one. Vikings defense is crazy good.— BJ Knox (@bj_knox) January 11, 2018
The number of players on injured reserve appears large, but that figure exists only for shock value.
We can take off several players right off the top. Jack Allen, David Parry, Dan Arnold and Clay Harbor likely wouldn't have had roles on the team. Garrett Griffin and Daniel Lasco only would have had minor roles. Mitchell Loewen appears poised to have a good season, but it was too early to tell.
John Hughes and Tony McDaniel were only here because other players were hurt.
The remaining number of players is still large, and the list contains the likes of Alex Anzalone, Delvin Breaux, Coby Fleener, Hau'oli Kikaha, A.J. Klein, John Kuhn, Alex Okafor, Andrus Peat, Zach Strief, Nate Stupar and Kenny Vaccaro are big blows.
So, the list really contains 11 names. Take it up to 12 if you want to count Nick Fairley. There are some tough hits on that list. And lowering the number a little bit isn't downplaying the impact, but it's not like there are 20 players who would be making an impact.
As far as having a chance, I think the Saints can win this game. But there are a few spots where the next injury could have a significant impact.
Their D is legit all the way around (points allowed, 3rd down, big plays). To win the game I think we'll have to hit on a couple big plays rather than drive the ball down the field all day. Field position, Teams & turnovers will be especially critical. Who Dat!!— Who Dat (@diehardSaints) January 11, 2018
Big plays are great. New Orleans will certainly take them if they happen within the natural course of the game. But I don't think you can look to set too many up.
Minnesota has a great front seven and an even better secondary. You can't leave Drew Brees back there holding the ball too long while you wait for routes to develop. Getting impatient or greedy could cause problems.
There's a reason teams only hit on 20-of-71 passes that traveled 20 or more yards through the air against Minnesota, according to Sports Info Solutions. Their secondary doesn't give up much, and the front seven is really good. Leaving your quarterback in the pocket is simply a bad idea against this defense.
But New Orleans has the kind of offense where big plays just kind of happen organically. And if Minnesota makes a mistake, or someone gets into single coverage down the field, Brees will spot it quickly and take advantage.
Are the Vikings WRs going to run crossing routes the whole game and how can the Saints slow that down?— Nate (@NateBsaucy) January 11, 2018
Minnesota does like to run some stuff over the middle of the field. Adam Thielen was targeted 29 times on digs, drags and slants during the season, while Stefon Diggs saw 18 targets on the same routes.
New Orleans will need to get good jams and break quickly on these routes.
But I don't think it's disproportionate. Michael Thomas was targeted 44 times on those same three routes, ranking third in the league behind the Chargers' Keenan Allen (51) and Dallas' Dez Bryant, according to Sports Info Solutions.
What Vikings receiver is the bigger threat ? Does Lattimore shadow one or just stay on one side?— Huey Newton (@JA5O4) January 11, 2018
Marshon Lattimore referred to Thielen as being the biggest threat this week. I'll side with him.
I'm not sure how they'll go about defending those guys. That's not something the team likes to share with the media. It is a hard one to sort through. There's a case for having Lattimore shadow both Thielen and Stefon Diggs.
Thielen is the bigger weapons. Diggs is a twitchy player and I think Lattimore matches up with him better than any of the other cornerbacks on the roster.
At least this time New Orleans knows it has a cornerback who can shadow receivers. That wasn't the case during the first meeting.
Brandon Coleman has really elevated this game and been a key part of the offense at times, however he continues to carry the ball like a loaf of bread, leading to several fumbles. Has Payton made this a point of emphasis with BC? Surely Vikings dbs are being coached to go for the strip when he has the ball. -- Reagan Gloer
It really is an issue. The one against Carolina was not good, and it marred an otherwise strong performance.
I have to imagine the coaching staff has addressed this in one manner or another. It's up to Coleman to fix it. He could be a key part of the game plan this week if he's healthy enough to play.
Do you feel as if the saints have enough offensive packages and plays to compensate or counter either a rush shut down or a pass shut down?— Evan Youngs (@Evan_07_09) January 11, 2018
We saw it last week. New Orleans has a potent enough offense to move the ball multiple ways if a defense sells out to take away one thing.
The difference is -- and not to take anything away from Carolina -- Minnesota has the personnel to stack the box and remain competitive in the secondary. It will be a little bit more of a challenge this week.
I think the Saints need to be smart and just take what is there. You can't try to force anything against this group.
He's a key in every game, even when he's not touching the ball.
That was one of the reasons I've been writing about the need for a satellite back each of the last few seasons. And one of the reasons I (foolishly) thought C.J. Spiller was going to do so well in this offense.
Even when he isn't touching the ball, he's creating matchup problems for the defense. You saw it last week against Carolina. The Panthers were so concerned about him and Mark Ingram that it opened things up for Drew Brees.
So whether he touches the ball or not against the Vikings (he will), Kamara will be causing issues one way or another.