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Numbers to Know: Saints vs. Vikings

A statistical analysis on how New Orleans can take down Minnesota.

Minnesota Vikings v New Orleans Saints Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

The New Orleans Saints (5-4) and the Minnesota Vikings (5-4) will face off in the U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota this Sunday. Both teams are on winning streaks with New Orleans winning its last two and Minnesota winning their last four.

Both teams have taken care of business recently, but this matchup will be crucial for both teams as they battle to the top of their respective divisions. Here are three statistics to keep in mind heading into the week ten matchup.

Four Flags

What does it mean: Penalties per game by both Minnesota and New Orleans over the past three weeks?

Why should I care:

Both the Vikings (4.3) and the Saints (4.0) are in the top five for least penalties per game over the past three weeks. Undoubtedly, this has been instrumental to both teams’ recent success. Even without starting quarterback Kirk Cousins, both teams appear to be very evenly matched. An undisciplined, flag-flooded performance could be the deciding factor in this game. When these teams met last season, the Vikings won in a 28-25 thriller. The Saints had ten penalties for 102 yards that game. Penalties probably cost New Orleans the game last year, and that cannot happen again.

12 Interceptions

What does it mean: Interceptions made by New Orleans this year

Why should I care:

This team would be nowhere near first in the NFC South without its ability to create turnovers. It was the saving grace in an overall sloppy game against the Chicago Bears. The team forced five turnovers and now has 18 total turnovers on the year, which is tied for most in the league. Even after the failure to control backup quarterback Tyler Bagent in the first half, the Saints forced him into throwing three interceptions. The Saints can do the same against Vikings’ backup Joshua Dobbs, who has only played in 17 NFL games since being drafted in 2018. If the Saints can continue to make turnovers and force Dobbs to make uncomfortable throws, it could be a very long day for Minnesota.

66 Yards

What does it mean: Rushing yards by Joshua Dobbs against the Atlanta Falcons

Why should I care:

Contrary to popular belief, Joshua Dobbs beat the Falcons with his feet, not his arm. His 66 yards and one touchdown were essential, especially after losing running back Cam Akers to a torn Achilles. New Orleans struggled to stop Tyler Bagent from scrambling last week. He finished the game with 70 yards rushing, with the longest rush being 20 yards. The Saints need to limit Dobbs’ scrambling ability if they want to win this game. It seems like Dennis Allen was able to make a few adjustments at halftime to limit Bagent’s scrambles. Hopefully, those adjustments will be worked into the defensive strategy this week.

Bonus Stat: The Saints had a 50% third down conversion rate against the Bears. That is the second consecutive week where they had above a 50% rate and only the second time it’s happened this season.

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