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Game Preview: Vikings vs. Saints

The Minnesota Vikings (4-2-1) host the New Orleans Saints (5-1) at U.S. Bank Stadium for the 3rd time since Week 1 of last season. The game, scheduled to kick off at 7:20 p.m. (CT), is the 34th contest between the two franchises and the 18th played in Minnesota.

The Saints are coming off a 24-23 road win over Baltimore, their fifth consecutive win, the second-longest active streak in the NFL (Rams, 7). The Vikings captured their third straight victory in a 37-17 road victory at the New York Jets, giving Minnesota a 7-1 record in October the past two seasons (4-1 in 2017, 3-0 in 2018).

Minnesota enters Week 8 ranking 13th in the NFL in total yards per game with a 380.4 mark through seven games. Vikings QB Kirk Cousins has thrown for 2,162 yards, the third-highest total in the NFL. Cousins is one of four QBs (Jared Goff, Philip Rivers and Matt Ryan) league-wide to rank in the top 10 in each of the following categories: completion percentage, passing yards and passing TDs.

WR Adam Thielen is on a record-breaking pace, having recorded 67 receptions (first in the NFL), the most in NFL history through the first seven games of a season. Thielen's 822 receiving yards, also first in the NFL, is tied for the fourth-most through the first seven games of a season in NFL history. Thielen and Stefon Diggs, who ranks seventh in the NFL with 48 receptions, are the WR duo in the NFL to rank in the top 15 in catches this season.

The Vikings defense, which ranks 11th in yards allowed (345.9 per game) in 2018, has held opponents to a 23.4 percent third-down conversion rate, the lowest in the NFL. Vikings DE Danielle Hunter is tied for second in the NFL with 7.5 sacks.


Play-by-Play: Al Michaels Analyst: Cris Collinsworth

Sideline: Michele Tafoya


Play-by-Play: Tom McCarthy Analyst: Jason Taylor


Play-by-Play: Paul AllenAnalyst: Pete Bercich

Sideline Reporters: Greg Coleman and Ben Leber

Pre-Game Show: Mike Mussman – 5:00 p.m. CT

KFAN and KTLK serve as the flagship stations for the 72-station, 5-state Vikings Radio Network.


WR Adam Thielen has totaled seven games with at least 100 receiving yards, trailing only Randy Moss – 8 in 2003, 8 in 2000, 7 in 2002, 7 in 1999 – for the most in a single season in Vikings history.

Thielen's three games with at least 10 receptions this season trails only Cris Carter in 1994 (4) and 1995 (4) for the most games with 10-plus catches in a single season.

CB Trae Waynes recorded four passes defensed at the New York Jets (10/21/18), tied for the most in a single game by any player this season.

DE Danielle Hunter is the only player in the NFL to record at least a half sack in every game in 2018.

TE Kyle Rudolph has started a league-leading (among TEs) 56 consecutive games, which is the longest streak for any TE all-time in Vikings team history, and has caught 17 TD passes since the start of the 2016 season, tied with Jimmy Graham and Cameron Brate for the most among all TEs.

Since the start of the 2017 season, S Harrison Smith has seven interceptions and 4.5 sacks, the only player in the NFL to have at least five interceptions and at least 3.0 sacks in that span.

QB Kirk Cousins' 2,162 passing yards are the second-most passing yards through seven games to start a season, trailing Daunte Culpepper in 2004 who threw for 2,180 yards. Cousins needs 188 yards to set a team record for the most passing yards through eight games to start a season.

WR Stefon Diggs' 48 receptions are tied for seventh in the NFL this season and the fifth-most in team history through seven games to start a season, trailing Randy Moss (49 in 2002), Percy Harvin (53 in 2012), Cris Carter (55 in 1994) and Adam Thielen (67 in 2018).

Rudolph (350 receptions) ranks eighth all-time in team history, Diggs (248 receptions) ranks 15th all-time in team history and Thielen (247 receptions) ranks 16th all-time in Vikings history.


Vikings WR Adam Thielen's seven consecutive games with 100+ receiving yards trails only Calvin Johnson's eight straight games in 2012 for the most in NFL history.

Streaks of 100-yard receiving games, NFL all-time

Rk) Player, Team, Year.................................. Games

1) Calvin Johnson, Detroit, 2012................... 8

2t) Adam Thielen, Minnesota, 2018.............. 7

2t) Demaryius Thomas, Denver, 2014.......... 7

2t) Michael Irvin, Dallas, 1995....................... 7

2t) Bill Groman, Houston, 1961..................... 7

2t) Charley Hennigan, 1961 7

Vikings–Saints Connections

Vikings DT Tom Johnson appeared in his first NFL action with the New Orleans Saints in 2011. Johnson played three seasons with the Saints from 2011-13 after spending time in NFL Europa, the CFL and the Arena League.

Vikings LB coach Adam Zimmer got his first coaching experience from 2006-09 with the Saints. He served as the team's assistant defensive backs coach during the team's Super Bowl season in 2009.

Saints FB Zach Line originally entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent with the Vikings in 2013. Line played for the Vikings from 2013-16, appearing in 35 games (10 starts) with Minnesota.

Saints CB Josh Robinson was drafted by Minnesota in the third round of the 2012 NFL Draft and played for the Vikings from 2012-15, appearing in 47 games (21 starts) with the club. Robinson was also teammates with Vikings RB Latavius Murray at UCF from 2009-11.

Local Connections

Vikings DE Danielle Hunter and Tashawn Bower attended Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Vikings DT Tom Johnson, T Rashod Hill and QB Kyle Sloter (later transferred to Northern Colorado) attended the University of Southern Mississippi in nearby Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Johnson is a Moss Point, Mississippi native, located on the Gulf Coast less than a two-hour drive east of New Orleans.

Vikings Strength & Conditioning Assistant Derik Keyes held the same title at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette in 2011 after playing S there from 2004-08. Keyes also played for the Lafayette (LA) High School Vikings

College Connections

Vikings C Pat Elflein (2012-16) attended Ohio State with Saints WR Michael Thomas (2012-15), S Von Bell (2013-15) and CB Marshon Lattimore (2015-16).

Saints LB Manti Te'o attended the University of Notre Dame with Vikings S Harrison Smith (2009-11) and TE Kyle Rudolph (2009-10).

Saints CB P.J. Williams (2012-14) was teammates with Vikings RB Dalvin Cook (2014-16) and CB Xavier Rhodes (2009-12) at Florida State.

Saints C Will Clapp (2014-17) was teammates at LSU with Vikings DEs Tashawn Bower (2013-16) and Danielle Hunter (2012-14).

Saints DE Marcus Davenport (2014-17) was teammates with Vikings TE David Morgan (2011-15) while at Texas-San Antonio.

Vikings T Rashod Hill (2011-15) and QB Kyle Sloter (2013-14) were teammates with Saints C Cameron Tom (2013-16) while at Southern Miss.


Anthony Barr............ 3 games, 22 tackles, 1.0 sack, 2 TFL, 1 INT, 2 passes defensed

Dalvin Cook.............. 1 game, 22 carries, 127 rush yards, 3 receptions, 10 rec. yards

Kirk Cousins.............. 2 games, 42-of-57 passing (73.7%), 646 passing yards, 7 TDs, 0 INTs, 78-yard TD pass, 150.3 passer rating, 1-1 record

Stefon Diggs............. 2 games, 13 receptions, 230 receiving yards, 3 TDs

Latavius Murray....... 3 games, 35 carries, 115 rush yards, 2 TDs, 3 receptions, 30 receiving yards

Andrew Sendejo...... 2 games, 10 tackles, 1 INT, 2 passes defensed

Harrison Smith......... 3 games, 17 tackles, 1.0 sack, 4 passes defensed

Adam Thielen 3 games, 15 receptions, 231 receiving yards


QB Kirk Cousins registered a perfect 158.3 passer rating vs. New Orleans (11/15/15) as a member of the Redskins. Cousins threw for 324 yards, a career-high-tying four touchdowns and zero interceptions on 20-of-25 passing in a 47-14 win. In his second career outing against the Saints, Cousins threw for 322 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions on 20-of-32 passing at New Orleans (11/19/17), a 34-31 loss.

During his rookie campaign, Vikings LB Anthony Barr recorded his third of four straight games with double-digit tackles, tallying 10 at New Orleans (9/21/14). Barr also added a sack and a pass defensed in what was his third career start. In last season's Divisional Round matchup, Barr intercepted QB Drew Brees, the second interception of his career.

RB Dalvin Cook made his NFL debut vs. New Orleans (9/11/17) running for 127 yards on 22 carries.

WR Stefon Diggs caught seven passes for 93 yards and two touchdowns vs. New Orleans (9/11/17), one of four career games with multi-TDs. In last season's Divisional Round game, Diggs etched his place in Vikings history snagging a 61-yard walk-off touchdown reception, giving the Vikings a 29-24 win. Diggs totaled 137 yards and one touchdown on six receptions in the postseason contest.

S Harrison Smith tied his career high with three passes defensed at New Orleans (9/21/14). Smith totaled eight tackles in the contest. In last season's Divisional Round matchup, Smith recorded his lone career postseason sack.

WR Adam Thielen totaled 157 yards on nine receptions vs. New Orleans (9/11/17), the third-highest total in his career.


The Saints will now have played in Minnesota four times in the last eight seasons.

The Vikings have dominated the series while playing at home, collecting a 14-3 mark in Minnesota.

The two franchises have met four times in the postseason with Minnesota holding a 3-1 edge.


Move Zimmer's home record as a head coach to 26-10 and give him his third win against the Saints in his fourth game vs. the franchise.

Give the Vikings a 5-2-1 record. The last two teams that had a 4-2-1 record both made the playoffs - 2016 Seahawks and 2014 Bengals.

Be the Vikings first four-game win streak of the 2018 season.

Give the Vikings their 15th win at U.S. Bank Stadium and move their overall record in their home stadium to 15-5.



Touchdown receptions by TE Kyle Rudolph since the start of the 2016 season, tied for the most among TEs in the NFL with Packers TE Jimmy Graham and Buccaneers TE Cameron Brate. Rudolph also ranks third among all TEs with 168 catches in that same span.


Career interceptions for S Harrison Smith since entering the League in 2012. Smith is tied for 10th in the team history for most interceptions.


Regular-season wins by the Vikings with Mike Zimmer at the helm, tied for the fifth-most wins in the NFL since the start of the 2014 season.


Games to reach 200 career receptions for WR Stefon Diggs setting a new team record. Randy Moss and Percy Harvin are tied for the second-fewest games to reach 200 career receptions at 42.


Sacks for DE Everson Griffen since becoming a full-time starter in 2014, tied for eighth in the NFL in that span.


Receiving yards for WR Adam Thielen since the beginning of the 2016 season, third in the NFL during that span, trailing Julio Jones and Antonio Brown.