New Orleans Saints @ Minnesota Vikings Tips | Sunday 14th January 2018

NFL boffin Tom Selwyn analyses the weekend’s NFL divisional play-off matches, concluding on Sunday night from Minnesota.

New Orleans Saints @ Minnesota Vikings | Sunday 14th January 2018, 21:40 | Sky Sports

This is my favourite game of the weekend. The Vikings are arguably the strongest team in the NFC right now and their superb defence faces off against the Saints diverse offense.

It’s impossible not to be entertained by New Orleans at the moment – not only has their offense evolved to one of the league’s best, but their defence has reverted to giving up 400+ yards a game of late. The latter has to be a concern for Saints fans.

Offensively, it leaves a much smaller margin for error if your defence can’t stop anyone and when you’re going against the league’s #1 ranked defence it narrows further.

There’s a reason that the Vikings are five-point favourites and the play of the Saints defence is a large part of it. Minnesota QB Case Keenum’s play this year has been very surprising (it certainly doesn’t look good on ex-Rams coach Jeff Fisher that TWO QBs are thriving outside his system) and at the start of the season I doubt I’d have said he could take advantage of any defence..

But he can take advantage of New Orleans’ defence. I think he’ll do so by targeting the middle of the field. Outside the numbers, the CB play of the Saints (especially rookie Marshon Lattimore) has been good, but I’ve watched New Orleans getting beaten across the middle too often this season.

I don’t doubt that the Saints offense will improve on the league average against the Vikings defence, but unless their defence improves my inkling is that Minnesota’s defence can carry them to the NFC Championship game.

Player to Watch – New Orleans

P.J. Williams – CB: It’s been Williams that has been covering the slot receiver position that has given the Saints trouble. Looks for the Vikings to target him early to see how he responds.

Player to Watch – Minnesota

Anthony Barr – LB: Barr figures to be heavily involved in defending Saints RBs Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara. If he’s successful in his duties it will go a long way to ensuring a victory for the Vikings.