5 things to know about the Vikings and Saints for Week 16

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) Adam Thielen
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) Adam Thielen /
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Minnesota Vikings
(Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) Dalvin Cook /

Minnesota and New Orleans run the ball on 2nd Down — a lot

A lightning rod for criticism pertaining to the 2020 Vikings is “running the football on 2nd Down.” Indeed, Minnesota offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak periodically dials up rushing plays on 2nd Down. It trickles out in the numbers.

Here’s a secret, though. The Vikings convert 1st Downs on 2nd Down-plays 38 percent of the time, which is seventh-best in the NFL.

Why does Minnesota run the ball on 2nd Down so much? Two words — Dalvin Cook. The 25-year-old is prolific and to ignore him on 2nd Down would be foolhardy.

In the situations that Cook gets the ball on 2nd-and-long, it’s generally to setup an obtainable 3rd Down scenario. It is not designed to irritate you on your sofa.

New Orleans runs the ball 2nd Down, too. Through Week 15, the Saints have called run plays on 2nd Down 144 times. Guess who else has run the ball on 2nd Down to the tune of 144 times? That would be the Vikings.