The New Orleans Saints have to play in the NFC Wild Card round despite finishing with a 13-3 record and host the Minnesota Vikings.
The New Orleans Saints tough the tough end of the stick in the playoffs this season as they were one of three NFC teams to finish the season with a 13-3 record and got relegated to the Wild Card round as a result.
Typically, a 13-3 record is good enough to get a first-round bye in the NFL playoffs. In fact, the only other team in the 2010s to finish with a 13-3 record and not get a first-round bye was the 2011 New Orleans Saints, which is rather ironic. Also ironically, the first two seeds in the NFC that season were the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers.
The Packers won 15 games that year while the 49ers won 13. The Saints got past the Detroit Lions in the Wild Card round and then lost to the 49ers in the Divisional Round. No matter what else happens, if the Saints move on, they will play the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field.
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The Saints will undoubtedly move on. And while the matchup against the Minnesota Vikings is dangerous, there is one overarching reason that will give the Saints the edge over the Vikings.
We could break down the entire roster from the safeties to the punter (and trust me, we will) but the one reason that we, and likely most football fans outside of Minnesota, keep gravitating towards is the fact that the Saints have a significant advantage at the quarterback position.
Football is a team sport without a doubt but the quarterback position is the most important on the team and as we see every single year in the playoffs, the quarterback position makes or breaks teams.
Kirk Cousins is a fine quarterback who actually had a fairly solid year but he also carries the stigma of not winning in big games and not beating good teams. Cousins is 0-9 in his career on Monday Night Football and has lost both playoff games that he has appeared in.
I do think this is going to be a close game because of the talent level of the Vikings and the great rushing attack led by Dalvin Cook, but there is going to be a point where Cousins is going to have to beat the Saints.
That won’t happen. Meanwhile, when Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees is tasked to win the game for the Saints he will deliver and ensure that the team moves on to the Divisional Round.
All the New Orleans Saints need to do in this game is contain the running game and put pressure on Kirk Cousins on passing downs. This is not a game where the Saints have to throw the kitchen sink at the Vikings, it is a game where they should be welcoming the other quarterback to try and beat them.