The 2019 NFL preseason continues with an exciting clash between the Minnesota Vikings and New Orleans Saints, which will be their first game of the summer. The Saints finished the previous regular season with the best record in the NFL (13-3), but the Los Angeles Rams beat them in the NFC Championship game.
Minnesota, on the other hand, had an 8-7-1 record and failed to make it to the playoffs. These rivals have met on nine occasions in the last ten years, and New Orleans recorded five wins including the latest encounter in 2018 campaign when the Saints defeated the Vikings in Minnesota, 30-20.
Minnesota Vikings are targeting playoffs in 2019
Minnesota Vikings finished the previous season in the 2nd place behind the Chicago Bears in NFC North after suffering three losses in the last five games. Mike Zimmer’s side didn’t make the playoffs, and another year without postseason will be deemed as a failure for the Vikings, so they will do everything to make it this time around. Minnesota was 19th in the NFL with 22.5 points per game while ranking 9th in scoring defense by allowing 21.3 points per contest in 2018.
In 2018, quarterback Kirk Cousins experienced one of the best seasons in his seven-year NFL career as he completed 70.1 percent of his passes (career-high) for 4,298 yards, 30 touchdowns (career-high), and ten interceptions. With a couple of 1,000+ yard receivers such as Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs, we can expect another 4,000+ yard campaign from a former Washington Redskin. Sean Mannion will serve as Cousins backup under the center and will likely get a starting nod against New Orleans Mannion represented the St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams in the last four years but appeared in just ten games in that span.
Dalvin Cook is the top running back option in offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski’s system, and he is looking to get his first-ever 1,000 rushing yards in 2019. Injuries hampered Cook’s season in 2018 as he played 11 games, recording 615 with two touchdowns yards on 133 carries while he also added 305 receiving yards and two touchdowns on 40 receptions.
Wide receiver Adam Thielen had a monstrous season in 2018 and earned his second consecutive Pro Bowl selection. Thielen recorded 1,373 yards and nine touchdowns on 113 receptions, all career-highs, while he became the first player in the Super Bowl era to record eight straight 100-yard receiving games to start a season. He also tied Calvin Johnson’s record for most consecutive 100 yard games in a year. Stefon Diggs will continue to serve as Cousins’ No. 2 option in the air after coming from his first 1,000-yard season, the best campaign in Diggs’ four-year NFL career. He posted 1,021 yards and nine touchdowns on 102 receptions, all career-highs, so it’s clear that Kirk Cousins has a pair of fantastic wideouts to work with. Tight end Kyle Rudolph is another reliable option through the air despite his numbers dropped a bit in the last two seasons.
Although the Vikings have a great offense, it looks that the defense is a better part of this team. Danielle Hunter, Everson Griffen, Linval Joseph, Anthony Barr, Harrison Smith, and Xavier Rhodes are all Pro Bowlers. Mike Zimmer will rely on them to bring his team back to the playoffs.
New Orleans Saints hoping to make a step forward
The best team in the regular season in 2018, the New Orleans Saints earned a bye week in the opening round of the playoffs and then beat the Philadelphia Eagles to make it to the NFC Championship game. However, after some dubious decisions from the referees and lack of luck, Sean Payton’s side fell short to the Los Angeles Rams. The Rams later went on to lose the Super Bowl to the New England Patriots. The Saints are the biggest favorites to win NFC South, and this time around, they are looking to make a step forward and reach Super Bowl. New Orleans was 3rd in the NFL with 31.5 points per game while ranking 14th in scoring defense by allowing 22.1 points per contest in 2018.
Even though he recorded the lowest number of passing yards since his arrival from San Diego in 2006, legendary quarterback Drew Brees still experienced a fine campaign. Brees had a career-high 74.4 percent of his passes for 3,992 yards, 32 touchdowns, and just five interceptions. Drew also got a career-high 115.7 passer rating, and the 12-time Pro Bowler has a contingent of quality wideouts to continue with great displays. New Orleans resigned Teddy Bridgewater, and a former Minnesota Viking will spend another year at Mercedes-Benz Superdome, serving as Brees’ backup.
The Saints lost running back Mark Ingram who left to the Baltimore Ravens but added Latavius Murray to provide competition to two-time Pro Bowler Alvin Kamara. For the second year in a row, Kamara accumulated over 1,500 all-purpose yards, and it’s evident that he is one of the best two-way running backs in the NFL. Considering who Kamara’s quarterback is, he should easily have another excellent season in 2019 and 1,500 all-purpose yards again.
Working with Brees turned out to be a real deal for wide receiver Michael Thomas, who made it to Pro Bowl in each of the last two years. He is Drew Brees’ first option in the air after recording 1,405 yards and nine touchdowns on 125 receptions (all career-highs) in 2018. Thomas set a record for most receptions by a player through his first three seasons with 321. Ted Ginn Jr. will continue to be the No. 2 receiving option while Tre’ Quan Smith and newly acquired Rishard Matthews will also provide solid numbers in 2019.
Tight end Benjamin Watson moved to the New England Patriots, but the Saints brought Jared Cook from Oakland Raiders on a two-year, $15.5 million contract. Cook had the best season in his NFL career in 2018 and made it to his first Pro Bowl after recording 896 yards and six touchdowns on 68 receptions (all career-highs). With Cook at tight end position and excellent receivers, Drew Brees could return to 4,000+ passing yards without problems.
New Orleans Saints:
- 0-5 ATS in their last five games overall
- 0-4 ATS in their last four games vs. NFC opponents
- 0-4 ATS in their last four home games
- 35-15-1 ATS in their last 51 games on field turf
- 5-1 ATS in the last six games
- 31-21 ATS as an underdog in preseason