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Lunchbreak: Experts Think Vikings-Saints Will Be 1 of NFL's Best Games in 2020

The Vikings 2020 schedule was released Thursday night and has already been analyzed up and down by football pundits near and far.

But nearly everyone agrees that Minnesota's Week 16 road game in New Orleans, which will be played on Christmas Day, is among the most intriguing games to watch this season.

Bryan DeArdo of CBS Sports had the matchup among his 10-best rivalry games featuring non-division opponents.

DeArdo wrote:

New Orleans is certainly circling this game on its calendar after losing to the Vikings — in controversial fashion — in last year's Wild Card round. Saints fans also haven't gotten over Stefon Diggs' game-winning catch on the final play of the Vikings improbable win in the Divisional round of the 2017 playoffs. Those losses deprived the Saints (and Drew Brees, who is "stuck" on one Super Bowl win) from winning another Lombardi.

The pain isn't all on the Saints side, however, as Vikings fans are still getting over their team's overtime loss to the Saints in the 2009 NFC title game.

Narratives aside, this game will feature two teams with serious Super Bowl aspirations. The Saints, who added Emmanuel Sanders to their offense this offseason, enter the 2020 season with 26 wins over the past two years. The Vikings, who replaced Diggs with first-round pick Justin Jefferson, are looking to build off of last season's 10-6 campaign.

Additionally, Connor Orr of Sports Illustrated also had the late-December game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome as one of his must-see games in 2020.

View photos of the Vikings 2020 schedule in photos including all opponents for the regular season.

Orr wrote:

A rare Christmas Day matchup (on a Friday!), which means most of us will miss it whilst jamming together seemingly unmatchable plastic ends of various toys. Still, I'm beginning to like what has become a yearly end-of-season Sean Payton rage fest as one supremely talented team after another falls just short of the big game. The Vikings victory last year in the playoffs (called by yours truly) has undoubtedly put them atop Payton's ever-expanding list of enemies.

On a local level, Vikings beat reporter Chad Graff of The Athletic had the Christmas Day game billed as the “can’t-miss” matchup of the entire season.

Graff also noted that it won't be an easy task to win in New Orleans. He tabbed the game as the second-toughest on Minnesota's entire schedule.

Graff wrote:

On Christmas Day, there will be a lot on the line for two of the NFC's best teams in the last five years.

The Vikings return to the site of their playoff victory for a rematch against Drew Brees and Sean Payton. Matchups between Zimmer and Payton are always worth the price of admission, and it'll be fun to see if Zimmer has any more wrinkles (like lining up Danielle Hunter inside) for the Saints again.

This should be a fun contest so late in the season on Christmas Day.

The Week 16 tilt is scheduled to be the fourth appearance by the Vikings on Christmas, which falls on a Friday this year. The team has played three previous games on Fridays.

McShay: Vikings among teams that immediately improved after 2020 draft

It's been two weeks since the 2020 NFL Draft came to a close, but the praise is still rolling in for the Vikings.

Experts lauded Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman's work in the days following the draft with a strong report card, and now ESPN NFL Draft Analyst Todd McShay has joined the chorus.

McShay recently wrote that he believes the Vikings are among the five teams that immediately improved due to their draft haul. Minnesota made 15 picks in the draft, which was a seven-round record.

McShay wrote:

Even though Minnesota doesn't have Aaron Rodgers, it's clear it has the most well-rounded roster in the NFC North. And a big reason is the way General Manager Rick Spielman continues to approach the draft. The Vikings made a ridiculous 15 selections, including two first-rounders. And man, did they make some good ones.

Justin Jefferson is a great fit as a replacement for Stefon Diggs opposite Adam Thielen. The LSU receiver will do most of his work out of the slot, and he's probably the best contested-catch playmaker in the entire class. Jefferson will do the dirty work over the middle and can make some defenders miss with the ball in his hands. Minnesota followed up that pick by moving back a few spots in the first round and addressing the cornerback position with TCU's Jeff Gladney. With good man-to-man skills, he's a future starter and might break through as a top-three option in a barren CB room as a rookie.

McShay also liked what Spielman and his staff did after Day 1, too, as he believed the Vikings added plenty of talent and depth to help restock the roster.

Minnesota was just getting warmed up. Boise State tackle Ezra Cleveland was a steal at No. 58 overall. He has a lot of upper-body strength and will thrive in the Vikings zone-blocking scheme. If he can win the left tackle job, Riley Reiff can bump inside to guard and boost the line overall. I also like the late-round grab of Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley. He has a huge arm and sets up as a good long-term backup at value in Round 7.

If we want to talk about steals, though, I'm not sure it gets much better than Baylor defensive lineman James Lynch at No. 130 in Round 4. The athleticism and testing numbers aren't going to wow anyone, but his tape is impressive. He can play inside or outside, and he displays loads of power and a great ability to finish. In all, it was a really strong three days for the Vikings.

While McShay is a fan of the selection of Lynch, so was former Vikings defensive tackle John Randle.

The Hall of Famer texted Andre Patterson, the Vikings Co-Defensive Coordinator and defensive line coach, soon after the pick and expressed his excitement.