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What you missed this week with the New Orleans Saints

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A look at some of the biggest Saints news and notes from the week of January 7th.

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NFL: NFC Wild Card-Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Saints enter the NFL’s Divisional Round of the playoffs, traveling north to take on the Minnesota Vikings in a rematch of their Week 1 clash on Monday Night Football. The Saints are just 2-3 in the divisional round, with all three losses coming on the road. Needless to say, it’s a great time to end that skid. Here’s a look at the biggest things related to the black and gold you may or may not have missed this week.

Quick Hits

  • Brandon Coleman (neck) was ruled out for Sunday, with Taysom Hill (illness) and Michael Mauti (illness) listed as questionable. David Onyemata will be playing with a cast to protect a thumb injury.
  • The Saints will be in black pants and white jerseys, with the game being nationally televised on FOX with an encore broadcast team of Joe Buck and Troy Aikman. Gene Steratore is the referee for the game.
  • Major roster moves for the week included sending Andrus Peat and Tony McDaniel to injured reserve, while adding Bryce Harris and elevating Woodrow Hamilton to the 53-man roster. According to a report, Peat’s fibula injury didn’t have as bad of ligament damage as was originally feared. Senio Kelemete will start in place of Peat, and it’s imperative that Terron Armstead remains healthy the rest of the way.
  • The team added a couple more faces to the 2018 roster via reserve/future deals with linebacker Sae Tautu and safety Rickey Jefferson.
  • Did you see how petty Saints fans were being after beating the Panthers? Get your broom and dustpan sent to Cam Newton, or just be like Cameron Jordan and send him wine.
  • Here’s the latest mock draft roundup for the Saints, if you dare.
  • Shamarr Allen’s “Do the Sean Payton” has went viral, give it a listen here. It has nearly 44,000 listens.
  • More and more analysts are picking the Saints in this game, and I don’t know how to feel about that. Here’s my thoughts on the game.

The Saints Have The Best Rookie Class This Century | FiveThirtyEight
Put it all together, and the Saints not only had the top draft class of any team in 2017 but one of the best this century. To show this, I used Pro-Football-Reference.com’s Approximate Value (AV) metric. 1 AV is “an attempt to put a single number on the seasonal value of a player at any position from any year.” Obviously there’s no perfect way to measure the contributions of an offensive tackle relative to a middle linebacker, but this metric allows us to at least estimate value of every player and compare them regardless of position. Comparing the total AV of every team’s rookies shows just how well the Saints drafted in 2017 relative to the rest of the league.

This is a pretty interesting read. I know there are some here that don’t give a hoot about AV, but give it a look and come up with your own conclusion.

2018 NFL Playoffs Bracket Projection: Saints top Steelers for Brees' second title - CBSSports.com
Another potential revenge game here with an interesting twist: if the Saints beat the Vikings, they could end up playing three games at Minnesota's home stadium. That's a pretty rare situation -- the Saints played the Panthers three times this year, but they're a divisional rival and only two of the games were at home for obvious scheduling purposes. The Saints played the Vikings in Minnesota in Week 1, are rematching with them there in the postseason for the Divisional Round and if New Orleans makes the Super Bowl, they will play in the Vikings stadium again. That's a pretty crazy advantage. It's also putting the cart before the horse, because New Orleans has to win this game first. It's going to require a tremendous effort from Drew Brees along with Michael Thomas stepping up and winning the one-on-one matchup with Xavier Rhodes. Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram need to make the Vikings linebackers miss tackles, and the Saints offensive line has to hold up in pass protection. Getting a strong game from Cameron Jordan and Marshon Lattimore is a must as well, because the Saints are going to need some help on defense to win this one. They get all that in this projection though! Prediction: Saints 21, Vikings 17

All I can say is that I hope this guy is right. At the end of the day, you have to proud of what this Saints team has been able to accomplish. They’ve overcome so many odds and injuries, and this has been just a special team. Outside of the Falcons, there’s no other team I’d rather see New Orleans beat than Minnesota.

In 1st meeting with Vikings, Saints had no problem finding the red zone, just finishing | theadvocate.com
One reason could be how many missed opportunities the Saints had. New Orleans drove into the red zone five times during that game and only reached the end zone once. Even worse, two field goals came from the 2-yard line and another from the 6.

Being that close hurts. Being that close in a 29-19 loss hurts more.

“When you fall behind, and you get in that game where it’s a little bit one-dimensional, that becomes hard, especially there,” Payton said. “I thought the other thing that hurt us is that we settled for field goals in some early drives, really much like Carolina did in this past game against us. We had scoring opportunities and weren’t able to take advantage.”

Just 1-of-5 in the red zone from the first meeting, while going 4-of-11 on 3rd down. Those two areas will be instrumental in getting a win for Sean Payton and company. 3rd down offense has been quite troublesome this year, and without Brandon Coleman in the mix, Willie Snead has to step up. The Saints only rushed for 60 yards in their first meeting, and I’d bet on them having a much better performance on Sunday. Will it be enough, however?

Brett Favre says he was concussed in 2009 NFC title game
There were two times in which I was hit by [former Saints safety] Darren Sharper late. He lunged at my head and both of them were pretty devastating hits, but I stayed in the game. One they threw a flag, one they didn't. Why they didn't throw the other, I have no idea. If head ringing or fireworks is a concussion, yeah, I did have that."

Have you come across some salty Vikings fans this week? They sure are out there. They’re still hung up on how they were ‘cheated’ out of a Super Bowl, but they definitely don’t wanna talk about the five turnovers or their own bounty program. Funny how that works.