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Lunchbreak: ESPN Previews Vikings-Saints Wild Card Game

So, you're saying there's a chance.

According to ESPN's Kevin Seifert, the Vikings have a 6.4 percent chance of making it to Super Bowl LIV in Miami.

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer posed the hypothetical question during his postgame press conference Sunday, "Why not us?"

Seifert previewed the Vikings-Saints Wild Card game that will take place in New Orleans at 12:05 p.m. (CT) on Sunday. He offered a "reason for hope," "reason for concern" and the "X factor" ahead of the postseason matchup.

Seifert pointed to running back Dalvin Cook as Minnesota's reason for hope despite being the underdog entering New Orleans. He wrote:

Running back Dalvin Cook is expected to return after missing two weeks because [of injury]. Cook has … averaged 3.1 yards per carry in his final four games of the regular season. But the Vikings offense runs through his ability to hit the outside zone and to be a productive outlet receiver, and there is optimism that he'll be fresh and ready for the playoffs.

The reason for concern posed by Seifert is the game's location. As the No. 6 seed in the NFC, the Vikings will be on the road for the duration of the postseason. Historically, Minnesota has struggled in road playoff games; it won its last one in January 2005, when the Vikings defeated the Packers at Lambeau Field in the Wild Card round.

Seifert called quarterback Kirk Cousins the "X factor" for the Vikings.

For much of the 2019 campaign, Cousins has put up career numbers. In nine games, he posted a passer rating of 111 or higher; in five of those contests, his rating was above 133. Cousins finished the regular season 307-of-444 for 3,603 yards, 26 touchdowns and just six interceptions.

But he has struggled in games, as well, particularly against NFC North opponents Green Bay and Chicago. Seifert pointed out that Cousins' lowest-production outings this season occurred in Vikings losses.

Minneapolis Miracle makes list of decade's top 10 moments

As the Vikings prepare to travel to New Orleans for a Wild Card matchup against the Saints, it's hard to forget the last time the two teams met in the postseason.

NFL International's Neil Reynolds recently compiled what he believes to be the league's 10 most memorable moments of the decade. No surprise, he included in the mix the Minneapolis Miracle, which lifted the 2017 Vikings over the Saints in the Divisional round of the playoffs. Reynolds wrote:

The 2017 playoffs were full of drama … and few games have ever ended in as shocking a fashion as the Divisional round game between the Minnesota Vikings and New Orleans Saints. All hope seemed lost for the Vikings as they prepared to take the game's final snap from their own 39-yard line trailing 24-23. Case Keenum heaved up a prayer, Stefon Diggs caught the ball and when [Saints CB Marcus Williams] overplayed it, the receiver ran down the sideline to complete what became known as the Minneapolis Miracle. In our Sky Sports studio, it was sheer pandemonium as [NFL RedZone's] Scott Hanson nearly lost his voice as he screamed and hopped around like a small child on Christmas morning. He was not alone. It was a special moment as we saw the first playoff game in NFL history decided by a touchdown as time expired.

Reynolds also included a handful of Super Bowl moments, including the Patriots comeback to upset the Falcons in Super Bowl LI and "The Philly Special" that saw the Eagles win Super Bowl LII at U.S. Bank Stadium.

And don't forget the Miracle in Miami, when the Dolphins defeated the Patriots in crazy fashion in December 2018. The wacky ending happened just over a year before Miami upset New England once again, this time at Foxborough on Sunday to knock the Patriots to the No. 3 seed.

Craig highlights rookies Hollins, Watts in postgame takeaways

After every Vikings game, Mark Craig of the Star Tribune posts five takeaways from the contest.

In the wake of Sunday's narrow loss to the Bears, during which Minnesota played mainly its reserves, Craig highlighted the performance of Vikings rookies Alexander Hollins and Armon Watts.

Craig urged Vikings fans to "keep an eye" on Watts, whom Minnesota drafted in the sixth round out of Arkansas. He wrote:

The 6-5, 295-pounder was [inactive] for nine games. Then he played seven snaps while notching half a sack in the win at Dallas. Then he played 11 snaps at Seattle while batting the pass that Anthony Harris returned for a touchdown. Sunday was Watts' seventh game and his first start. He didn't disappoint. He had a sack, a forced fumble and was the key force in stopping Mitch Trubisky for no gain on fourth-and-1 from the Chicago 42.

"I was just thinking get penetration, knock [center Cody Whitehair] back as much as I can," said Watts, who gained perfect leverage. "I think I've made the most of some opportunities this year."

Of Hollins, Craig said that he "packed a wallop" in his first significant playing time.

The longest reception of Sunday's game was a 35-yarder by Alexander Hollins. All 166 pounds of him. The undrafted rookie out of Eastern Illinois spent Weeks 2-12 on the Vikings practice squad before being added to the active roster Dec. 2. Sunday was the fifth game he's played, but his two catches for a team-high 46 yards were his first two in the NFL. Meanwhile, former No. 1 draft pick Laquon Treadwell also played and was held without a catch on two targets. The 6-1 Hollins, who caught 80 balls as a senior, made a nice read and adjustment on the 35-yarder.

"It's a play we run on the quick," Hollins told Craig. "I saw man-to-man, so I knew where to go based on that. Sean [Mannion] threw a good ball, and I helped the team."

Hollins' other catch was an 11-yarder on third-and-7.

Craig's other three game-day observations delved into Mannion's performance at quarterback, Kris Boyd's ability to "get under the skin" of Bears receiver Allen Robinson II and the comeback of tackle Aviante Collins, who has missed significant time to injury the past two seasons.

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