Thomas will destroy the Vikings’ depleted secondary
As many positives as there are for the Vikings heading into this game, there is one big negative in the form of Michael Thomas. Like a ghost from their past, Thomas has continued to haunt the Vikings even when he wasn’t on the field as Laquon Treadwell hasn’t come close to his 2016 NFL Draft counterpart in terms of production.
Draft stories aside, Thomas is having a historical season by setting the NFL record for receptions with 148. Although no other Saints wide receiver has more than 30, New Orleans hasn’t needed to throw the ball anywhere else thanks to the yards after catch ability of Thomas and running back Alvin Kamara.
The task of stopping Thomas becomes even harder with the Vikings injury situation. On Friday, the Vikings announced that both Mackensie Alexander and Mike Hughes will miss this game due to injury, leaving the team with a combination of Xavier Rhodes, Holton Hill, and Trae Waynes to do a majority of the lifting.
Both Hill and Waynes are unfamiliar with playing the slot, so the Vikings will likely require Rhodes to shadow Thomas and that would be bad news considering Thomas played just under 30 percent of his snaps in the slot this season.
Rhodes allowed an 84.2 completion percentage this season, which was by far the highest in the NFL for full-time corners and if the Vikings do wind up getting Thomas on the outside, he’ll likely see Waynes, who has allowed the sixth-most receptions this season (61).
In their last meaningful game, the Vikings played a similar receiver in Green Bay’s Davante Adams and allowed him to get whatever he wanted in a 13-catch, 116-yard performance that featured plenty of catches, but minimized the damage. Minnesota will likely employ a similar technique in trying to slow down Thomas, but with his YAC ability (587 yards this season), that may be too tall of a task.