We’ll continue a series of opponent preview posts for the New Orleans Saints opponents in 2020. Next, we’ll look at our Christmas Day rematch from last year’s Wild Card game. Our friends over at Daily Norseman took some time to give us Saints fans the scoop on the Minnesota Vikings.
Week 16: vs the Minnesota Vikings
Notable free agent additions:
DT Michael Pierce, DE Anthony Zettel, WR Tajae Sharpe, LB DeMarquis Gates. With their cap situation the way it is, the Vikings had to largely concentrate on retaining their own free agents, including franchise tagged safety Anthony Harris. Pierce is an interesting addition, as he’s essentially in the same spot that Linval Joseph was in when the Vikings signed him in 2014. . .big guy, known for stopping the run, getting a big second contract. If the Vikings can get similar returns, they’ll continue to be in good shape up front.
10 wins — Push. I will declare this a push, as I believe the Vikings will go 10-6. Both sides of the football are going to have some questions, but with the offense now coming under the control of Gary Kubiak and the Vikings having enough veteran leadership on defense to help the youngsters get along, I think the Vikings can get to 10 wins, and possibly more if things break the right way.
Most exciting rookie:
DT James Lynch. The three-technique tackle spot next to Pierce is wide open, and Lynch might have as good a chance as anybody to claim it. He’s coming off of an outstanding final season at Baylor that saw him named the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year and a Unanimous All-American. He could, potentially, provide the sort of interior defensive pressure that Shamar Stephen hasn’t been able to bring and play a pivotal role in the Vikings’ defensive line rotation.
Position battle to keep an eye on:
Cornerback. The Vikings’ top 3-4 cornerbacks (depending on how you view Jayron Kearse) all have new addresses this year. That makes Mike Hughes the “old man” in the cornerback room. . .Hughes was drafted in 2018 and has finished each of his first two years on injured reserve. The Vikings will (presumably) get a full season out of Holton Hill, and used two high picks on corners in Jeff Gladney and Cameron Dantzler. The Vikings’ play at the corner position was pretty atrocious last year, for the most part, and it will be interesting to see which of the youngsters step up to stake their claims at the top of the depth chart.
Biggest storyline heading into training camp:
Have the Vikings done enough to replace Stefon Diggs’ production? The focus here will likely be on first-round pick Justin Jefferson, and rightfully so. But the Vikings will be looking to other places to help replace Diggs’ production from last season, including second-year tight end Irv Smith Jr. Adam Thielen is now the unquestioned #1 wide receiver for the Vikings, and the Vikings will have to get creative to help take the heat off of him a bit.
Under-the-radar storyline heading into training camp:
Can the offensive line continue to improve? The Vikings appear to be pretty solid at the tackle spots on the offensive line, and added to that by drafting Ezra Cleveland in the second round this past April. The interior, on the other hand, has been pretty rough. The team needs to hope for a significant jump forward from second-year center Garrett Bradbury and to get him some kind of help at the guard spots. Pat Elflein has been a disappointment, but there are high hopes for second-year players Dru Samia and Oliseameka Udoh, both of whom were essentially red-shirted in 2019. If the Vikings can get the problems on the interior sorted out, this offense could really take off.
Notable injuries heading into training camp:
None that we are aware of at the present time.
So what says you, you unbiased Saints fans? Can the Saints beat the Vikings? Vote in the poll. Explain in the comments. Make sure you follow Canal Street Chronicles on Twitter at @SaintsCSC, “Like” us on Facebook at Canal Street Chronicles, and make sure you’re subscribed to our new YouTube channel. As always, you can follow me on Twitter @ChrisDunnells.
How will the Saints fare against the Vikings?
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