Game Predictions & Player Projections - NO vs. MIN

David Dorey, @DMDorey

Prediction: NO 17, MIN 24

(Line: MIN by 4 , O/U = 45)

UPDATE: Brandon Coleman is out with a neck injury.

This is a full circle. The season opened with the Saints losing 19-29 in Minnesota and now one of them will end their season in the exact same matchup and venue. The Saints are only 4-4 in road games and lost their last three away games. Each was by a touchdown or less and two went against teams that reached the playoffs (Rams and Falcons). The Vikings are 7-1 at home and come off their first round bye.

New Orleans Saints

1 @MIN 19-29 10 @BUF 47-10
2 NE 20-36 11 WAS 34-31 OT
3 @CAR 34-13 12 @LAR 20-26
4 @MIA 20-0 13 CAR 31-21
5 BYE xxx 14 @ATL 17-20
6 DET 52-38 15 NYJ 31-19
7 @GB 26-17 16 ATL 23-13
8 CHI 20-12 17 @TB 24-31
9 TB 30-10 18 CAR 31-26
News | Statistics | Roster
NO at MIN Rush Catch Pass
QB Drew Brees     270,1
RB Mark Ingram 40,1 4-30  
RB Alvin Kamara 30 6-60  
WR Michael Thomas   4-50  
WR Ted Ginn   4-60,1  
TE Josh Hill   2-10  
PK Will Lutz 1 FG 2 XP

Pregame Notes: The Saints beat the Panthers for the third time and while the offense remained roughly the same, the defense gave up a little more each meeting - 34-13, 31-21 and 31-26. It is equally troubling that facing their division rivals of the Buccaneers, Panthers and Falcons resulted in a home win and a road loss each time. The Saints offense showed flexibility though when the Panthers finally was able to limit their rushing offense to only 46 yards while Drew Brees cranked up the 2016 passing machine and threw for 349 yards and two scores. Not many teams have Drew Brees standing by for when the rushing effort slows down.

QUARTERBACK: Drew Brees opened the season by throwing for 291 yards and one score in Minnesota with no turnovers. Brees passed for more than two scores only once all year - Week 3 in Carolina. When he ended with 376 yards and two scores last week, it was his first multiple score game in three weeks. It was his first 300-yard game in seven weeks. Brees ended with only one or no touchdown passes in six of his eight road venues.

RUNNING BACK: Back in the season opener, the backfield was still a three-man operation and no one yet knew that Alvin Kamara was the guy who needed the ball the most. He only ran for 18 yards on seven carries and caught four passes for 20 yards. Mark Ingram only gained 17 yards on six runs and added 54 yards on five receptions in Minnesota. Adrian Peterson rounded it out with six runs to gain 18 yards. In all - 19 carries to gain 53 yards.

Ingram scored in eight games this year but only in two road venues - at the Packers and Bills. He's been held below 50 rushing yards in all others and usually ends up with around four catches for about 20 yards. Kamara scored in 11 games but five were in away games. He too was held below 50 yards in most of them but added five or six receptions. Ingram and Kamara are not terribly different other than the rookie is far more likely to pop a long run or reception. Ingram is a solid rusher while Kamara is a game breaker since he could score on any play.

WIDE RECEIVER: Michael Thomas was held to five catches for 45 yards in the first meeting which was good enough considering he naturally draws CB Xavier Rhodes. Brandon Coleman (2-13), Ted Ginn Jr. (4-53) and Tommylee Lewis (2-52) were no more effective. Ginn's role varies dramatically depending on the secondary. He ended with 115 yards and a score in the win over the Panthers last week but three of his four previous weeks never totaled more than 33 yards. The offense usually moves via the running backs either rushing or receiving. Thomas is a constant and then Ginn gets added as needed.

TIGHT END: No fantasy value.

MATCH TO THE DEFENSE: The last five visitors failed to score more than one touchdown and no visitor scored more than two this year. The Vikings only allowed five passing touchdowns at home this year and none since Week 7. Most of the quarterbacks have been below average but Brees was already limited to one there in the season opener. Expect nothing more than the one touchdown and lower yards now than in Week 1.

No rusher gained more than 100 yards as a visitor and just three ever managed a touchdown. Look for just moderate yardage from both backs though Kamara's role as a receiver should come into play more this week. Either back has a chance for one rushing score.

Thomas should have a down game here as he did in Week 1 as the main focus of the secondary.

Ginn is in the best situation for a touchdown of all receivers but that's far from a guarantee he'll score. There's no reason to expect much more this week than in the first meeting, Kamara is a bigger factor but that's all.

Gaining Fantasy Points NO 15 1 13 32 7 9
Preventing Fantasy Points MIN 1 1 9 1 10 2

Minnesota Vikings

1 NO 29-19 10 @WAS 38-30
2 @PIT 9-26 11 LAR 24-7
3 TB 34-17 12 @DET 30-23
4 DET 7-14 13 @ATL 14-9
5 @CHI 20-17 14 @CAR 24-31
6 GB 23-10 15 CIN 34-7
7 BAL 24-16 16 @GB 16-0
8 @CLE 33-16 17 CHI 23-10
9 BYE xxx      
News | Statistics | Roster
MIN vs. NO Rush Catch Pass
QB Case Keenum     270,2
RB Latavius Murray 80,1 1-10  
RB Jerick McKinnon 30 5-40  
WR Stefon Diggs   5-60,1  
WR Adam Thielen   8-90  
WR Laquon Treadwell   1-10  
TE Kyle Rudolph   4-50,1  
PK Kai Forbath 1 FG 3 XP

Pregame Notes: The Vikings come off their first-round bye knowing they play at home for the next two weeks so long as they win. They handled the Saints handily in that first meeting but mostly thanks to Stefon Diggs scoring twice including once with two seconds left before halftime. This is a different Vikings team than the Saints faced in Week 1. Sam Bradford would only last that one game and Dalvin Cook was still the most promising player on the field. But the defense has been the catalyst for most wins and the offense has always performed better at home.

QUARTERBACK: Sam Bradford lit up the Saints with 346 yards and three touchdowns in the Week 1 meeting. He never started again and ended up on injured reserve. Case Keenum gave his career a major boost this year. He threw for 3,547 yards and 22 touchdowns against only seven interceptions. Not unlike Drew Brees, Keenum mostly produced one and two touchdown games with moderate yardage but threw for over 300 yards twice and half his games produced two touchdowns. He was no more likely to throw for more yards and scores at home since the rushing effort normally improved when playing in Minnesota.

RUNNING BACK: Dalvin Cook debuted with 127 yards on 22 carries in the season opener and he added three catches for 10 yards. He left in Week 5 and the backfield has remained split between Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon. Jerick McKinnon had a larger role initially but since became the secondary rusher and third-down back. McKinnon caught up to seven passes in home games but only once had more than 30 receiving yards. He's usually good for around 50 total yards.

Murray became the workhorse back and is given 15 to 20 carries per game when at home where he's scored in each of the last four games including twice versus the Rams and Bengals. Murray only accounts for one catch per game but is the primary rusher.

WIDE RECEIVER: The first meeting with the Saints was the most successful passing effort of the year and mainly thanks to Adam Thielen (9-157) and Stefon Diggs (7-93, 2 TD). Thielen has remained one of the busiest wideouts in the NFL, ranking No. 8 with 91 receptions and No. 5 with 1,276 yards. Diggs would blow up for 173 yards and two scores in Week 3 versus the Buccaneers but hasn't topped 78 yards since despite scoring eight times this year. He is currently on a three-game streak for touchdowns.

TIGHT END: Kyle Rudolph caught three passes for 26 yards and one touchdown in the season opener. He's since scored seven more times but rarely gained more than 45 yards in a game.

MATCH TO THE DEFENSE: The Saints allowed the most pass yards to the Vikings this year but that's not likely to repeat since CB Marshon Lattimore has more experience and there is a better sense of what to expect. The Saints were good against most passers this year but still allowed seven quarterbacks to top 300 yards. Case Keenum should be good for at least one passing score and potentially two. Anything more wouldn't fall into what either team would normally support.

The Saints vary in what they allow rushers but they've already allowed four runners to break 100 rushing yards and eight runners scored on them along with six backs catching touchdowns. Murray is a strong start here and should turn in one score while McKinnon is providing the third-down role that will come into play.

Both wideouts were successful versus the Saints in the first meeting but that should calm down here as the Saints secondary has come together much better by now and even on the road they only allowed two scores to wideouts over the last seven road games. Rudolph stands a very good chance for a score here. Greg Olsen came to life last week with an 8-107-1 stat line.

Gaining Fantasy Points MIN 16 7 12 15 10 26
Preventing Fantasy Points NO 19 13 20 3 11 6

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