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Early Look: Vikings Look to Keep Playoff Hopes Alive in New Orleans

EAGAN, Minn. — The Vikings and Saints have an interesting playoff history of late, but if Minnesota wants to get into dance this season, it will need to win Friday in New Orleans.

In order make the postseason for a second consecutive season, Minnesota needs to win out, and have Arizona lose out. Additionally, the Vikings need the Bears to lose one of their final two games.

The Vikings can keep their slim playoff hopes alive on Christmas Day if they improve to 7-8, but a loss would eliminate Minnesota from playoff contention.

The Saints are 10-4 and can clinch the NFC South with a win.

Look back on images from past games between the Vikings and the Saints.

Here's an Early Look at the Vikings Week 16 matchup against the Saints, presented by Minnesota Eye Consultants, the Proud Ophthalmology Partner of the Minnesota Vikings.

Passing: Kirk Cousins was efficient against Chicago. He completed 24 of 35 passes for 271 yards with two scores and an interception that came on the game's final play. He had a passer rating of 98.6.

The quarterback was also sacked three times, bringing his total to 13 in the past three games.

He has now completed 294 of 435 passes (67.6 percent) for 3,560 yards with 29 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. He has a passer rating of 102.4, which ranks eighth in the league.

The Vikings will see Saints quarterback Drew Brees on Friday, as the future Hall of Famer returned in Week 15 after missing four games.

Brees completed 15 of 34 passes for 234 yards with three touchdowns and an interception Sunday against the Chiefs. His passer rating was 84.7.

Brees has started 10 games in 2020, completing 234 of 332 passes (70.5 percent) for 2,430 yards with 21 touchdowns and four interceptions. His season-long passer rating of 107.4 is fifth.

The 41-year-old ranks first in NFL history with 79,846 passing yards, and he is second all-time with 568 passing touchdowns.

Rushing: Dalvin Cook had yet another 100-yard game, giving him eight such performances in 2020. The Vikings record in a season is 10, which was set twice by Adrian Peterson.

Cook had 132 yards and a score on 24 carries against the Bears. Cousins added 25 rushing yards on three attempts, Alexander Mattison had one carry for a yard in his return from appendix surgery.

Cook, who was named to the Pro Bowl on Monday, ranks second in the league with a career-best 1,484 rushing yards. He is tied for the league lead with 15 rushing touchdowns.

Minnesota ranks fifth in the NFL with 147.7 rushing yards per game. New Orleans is seventh at 131.8 yards per game.

Alvin Kamara had 54 yards on 11 carries against the Chiefs. Former Viking Latavius Murray had three yards, as did Taysom Hill, who had a rushing score.

Kamara leads the Saints with 777 rushing yards and 10 scores. Murray has 584 yards and four touchdowns, while Hill has six scores and 398 yards.

Receiving: Justin Jefferson continued his stellar rookie season with eight catches for 104 yards. One of two rookies voted to the Pro Bowl, Jefferson has now set a Vikings rookie record with 73 catches. He has 1,182 receiving yards and trails Randy Moss by 131 yards for that franchise rookie record with two games to go.

Tyler Conklin had three catches for 57 yards, including his first-career score. Irv Smith, Jr., had three receptions for 37 yards, while Adam Thielen had a 3-yard touchdown catch.

Thielen ranks third the league with 13 touchdown catches and is also tied for the third-most touchdown catches in a season in Vikings history. He has 62 catches for 771 yards.

Kamara is also New Orleans' top receiving threat, as he has a team-high 80 receptions for 739 yards. He also has five scores through the air.

Emmanuel Sanders (48 catches for 580 yards and four TDs) and Jared Cook (30 catches for 379 yards and six scores) are also key parts of the Saints passing game.

All-Pro Michael Thomas is currently on Injured Reserve and is out for the remainder of the regular season.

Minnesota's offense ranks fifth in the NFL with 387.1 yards per game. New Orleans is 12th at 374.8.

Defense: The Vikings had one of their worst outings of the season Sunday, as Minnesota allowed a season-high 199 rushing yards to the Bears.

Minnesota gave up 20 total plays where Chicago's offense gained at least 8 yards. And 14 of those plays went for at least 10 yards.

The Vikings also gave up 100-plus rushing yards for the 11th time this season. Todd Davis had a sack for Minnesota.

Ifeadi Odenigbo leads the Vikings with 3.5 sacks, while Harrison Smith leads the team with four interceptions.

The Vikings allowed 397 yards to the Bears, and now rank 23rd in the league with 378.0 yards allowed per game.

New Orleans has allowed 306.4 yards per game, which ranks third this season.

Trey Hendrickson is tied for second in the NFL with 12.5 sacks, while Marcus Williams and Janoris Jenkins lead the Saints with three interceptions apiece.

View photos of the Vikings preparing to take on the Saints for Week 16 during practice at TCO Performance Center.

Special Teams: Minnesota's kicking game got back on track, as Dan Bailey made all three extra points and a pair of short field goals.

Bailey is now 14-for-20 on field goals and has made 30 of 34 extra points in 2020.

Britton Colquitt averaged 40.0 yards per punt on just two kicks. He's averaging 44.9 yards per punt this season with a net average of 36.4.

Saints kicker Wil Lutz has made 20 of 25 field goals in 2020, and is perfect on 47 extra point tries.

Punter Thomas Morstead averages 43.2 yards per punt this season with a net average of 41.7.

Deonte Harris handles return duties for the Saints. He has 17 punt returns for 207 yards (12.2), and has 436 yards on 16 kickoff returns (27.3).

Vikings history on Christmas Day

The Vikings will play on Christmas Day for the fourth time in team history, with each game coming on a Friday.

Here's a look at the previous three occurrences:

1971: Cowboys 20, Vikings 12 (Divisional Round of NFC Playoffs)

1989: Vikings 29, Bengals 21 (first ever NFL regular-season game played on Christmas)

2005: Ravens 30, Vikings 23 (Week 16)

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