Series: Vikings lead 20-9
Last Meeting(s): The Vikings opened the 2010 season with a 14-9 loss to the Saints at the Superdome. The last game of the Vikings’ 2009 season was also a loss in New Orleans, in the NFC Championship. The 2010 game was the Week 1 Thursday kickoff game (I’m sure the NFL has an official name for that game, I’m not going to bother) and was supposed to be a shootout. But the Vikings had trouble moving the ball; Sidney Rice missed the game, Brett Favre looked a little rusty (you mean he didn’t practice before the season started?), and the one time Minnesota got into the end zone (Favre found Visanthe Shiancoe for a 20-yard touchdown in the second quarter), Ryan Longwell missed the extra point. It was that kind of night. The Saints moved the ball better than the Vikings, but they missed two field goals.
Minnesota led 9-7 at halftime, but New Orleans went ahead for good in the third quarter with a one-yard touchdown run by Pierre Thomas that capped an 11-play 69-yard drive. The Vikings went three-and-out three times before finally reaching midfield halfway through the fourth quarter. Favre missed Greg Camarillo on 3rd and 11 and the Saints held on to the ball for the remaining 5:32.
Streak(s): Wins have come in batches for the Vikings and few and far between for New Orleans. The Saints, then in their second season as a franchise, beat the 1968 Vikings in the series’ first game. In six meetings from 1970 to 1976, the Saints were 0-6 and scored just 42 points. The Saints snuck in a victory in 1978, but the Vikings won the next two (1980, 1981). New Orleans nabbed two more wins (1983, 1985) and started a pretty consistent pattern in the series: Minnesota won four straight from 1986 to 1990, then the Saints won in 1991 and 1993. The Vikings won four more in a row from 1994 to the 2000 playoffs. The Saints won in the 2001 regular season, then the Vikings won four games again from 2002 to 2008. Now the Saints have won two straight. Clearly, then, the Vikings are going to win the next four matchups.
Playoffs: The Saints didn’t have much of a playoff history for most of their existence (they’ve played 12 playoff games and only four of those occurred before 2000), but the Vikings and Saints do have a fairly rich playoff past. The Vikings destroyed the Saints 44-10 in New Orleans in the 1987 wildcard round during an improbable run that ended a couple inches from overtime in the 1987 NFC Championship. Minnesota also won easily in the Metrodome in a 2000 divisional playoff game. Aaron Brooks and Daunte Culpepper had come out of nowhere in 2000 and led their teams to great seasons, but the Vikings finished the year with three bad losses and “backed into” a first-round bye. Luckily Randy Moss showed up that day; he caught two passes for 121 yards and two touchdowns in the Vikings’ 34-16 win. I don’t feel it’s necessary to rehash the 2009 NFC Championship.
Read about all of Week 15’s games at Brad’s blog.