|MINNESOTA VIKINGS (13-4)
||ROUND 3 (FIGHT!)||NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (14-3)
|Date:||24 January 2010
||Location:||New Orleans, LA
|Time:||5:40 P.M. CST||Stadium:||Louisiana Superdome
||Know Thy Enemy:||Canal Street Chronicles|
|Gonzo's Prediction:||Vikings 34, Saints 31
Well, hey, that just flew by, didn't it?
Yeah, not really.
It's been a great week thus far going back and forth with the folks over at Canal Street Chronicles. The guys over at CSC have been nothing but class all week long. . .pretty much the best interaction that we've had with an opposing blog all season. (That's not to denigrate the rest of the SBNation blogs, but hey. . .the folks at CSC were really, really good.)
Now. . .let's end their season and punch our tickets to Miami.
How do we go about doing that?
1) Weather the storm early - The Vikings have been outstanding on their opening drives this year, both offensively and defensively. In 17 games this year, they've yet to allow an opening drive touchdown to an opponent, and they've scored 51 points of their own on the first possession of the game. (Thanks to Kevin Seifert for those figures.) Never will a good start be more important than in today's game, as the crowd in the Superdome is going to be in full throat from the very beginning of today's proceedings. Last week against Dallas, the Cowboys moved the ball early, but the Vikings' defense made big plays and shifted the momentum to Minnesota's side. If the Vikings can take the Saints' best shot early and counter-punch the way they need to, it will play a huge role in the Vikings' success today.
2) Get the running game going - The Saints' biggest weakness this season has been their rush defense, and in their three losses, opposing runners had a great deal of success. Part of the Vikings' best strategy today, in my opinion, is to try to shorten the game with the rushing attack and keep Drew Brees and the New Orleans offense off of the field. Whether it's Adrian Peterson. . .who is STILL due for a huge game. . .or Chester Taylor, or even Percy Harvin lining up in the backfield, getting the running game established for the Vikings will help them to remain balanced on offense, keep the Saints' defense off-balance, and help to establish the play-action passing game that Brett Favre has been so successful with.
3) Tackle, tackle, tackle - Last week, the Arizona Cardinals' defense looked absolutely awful in their attempts to tackle on defense and special teams, particularly against Saints' running back/punt returner Reggie Bush. The Vikings absolutely, positively can NOT afford to have that sort of lapse today on the defensive side of the ball. The rush defense is going to do what the rush defense always does, but the linebackers and the secondaries need to stop the Saints' backs, tight ends, and receivers without allowing them to get a ton of yards after the catch. Drew Brees is an incredibly accurate quarterback, so the receivers and tight ends are going to get their catches. The Minnesota defense needs to limit them to yardage after the catch, which should help the defense get off the field on third downs, which are going to be key as well.
Kickoff is about two hours away, folks. This is what we've waited all week for. This is what we've waited all SEASON for. Here's hoping that the Beloved Purple can get the job done this afternoon and give us two more weeks of unbearable anticipation and excitement, culminating in a little game in Miami.