By Kevin Cooney
Special to FOX Sports
The Minnesota Vikings are hoping that they won’t find a lump of playoff coal in their stockings. And the New Orleans Saints hope that their ultimate gift — a trip to Tampa Bay for Super Bowl LV — is about a month away from being delivered.
Being able to predict the big events of this game could help you win $25,000 in FOX’s Super 6 contest. Just download the free app, answer six questions correctly and you could win up to $25,000 while watching football on Christmas Day. Could anything really be better than that?
Here are the questions and some insight on how to approach your picks:
How many total points will be scored in the first half?
Options: 0-10, 11-13, 14-16, 17-19, 20-22, 23+
Both offenses were sluggish on Sunday. In the Vikings’ 33-27 loss to the Bears on Sunday, Minnesota scored 10 points, but had real trouble moving the football and keeping the Chicago offense off the field.
The rustiness of Drew Brees was evident on the first four possessions — three punts and an interception against the Kansas City defense before a touchdown drive that ended with a Taysom Hill rushing score to break the ice. One thing to keep in mind: New Orleans’ defense was on the field for a team-record 92 snaps on Sunday with a quick turnaround for a short week.
Which team will have the last scoring drive of the first half? And how many yards?
Options: Vikings or Saints, with ranges of 0-25, 26-29, 30-33, 34-37, 38-41, 42-45, 46-49, 50-53 and 54+ yards
If you believe that the last scoring drive is going to be a field goal, the Saints are a pretty good bet on that one. Dan Bailey’s struggles for Minnesota two weeks ago in Tampa Bay are well documented and the Vikings seem to always have a kicking issue.
Wil Lutz, meanwhile, is one of the better kickers in the game and is 20-for-25 on field goals, including 13-of-14 inside the Superdome. In that case, something likely in the high 30s or low 40s seems to make sense.
Which team will have the most receptions and how many?
Options: Vikings or Saints, with ranges from 0 to 25+
With Michael Thomas out for the remainder of the regular season, and Brees still trying to scrape some rust off after four missed games with broken ribs, don’t be surprised if the Saints play more of a rushing type game with Alvin Kamara. With Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson on the outside, Kirk Cousins could be forced to air it out.
Which team will have the most rushing yards and how many?
Options: Vikings or Saints, with nine ranges from 0 to 136 yards
We mentioned that Kamara is a big presence for the Saints, but it’s important to know that a lot of his damage can be done with short swing passes. Dalvin Cook is a big-time threat at the running back spot for Minnesota.
The Vikings average 147 yards per game on the ground and Cook is the biggest reason why that happens. New Orleans is averaging 131.8 yards on the ground per game.
Which team will have the most receiving yards and how many?
Options: Vikings or Saints, with nine different ranges from 0 to 301+
Because Brees is a Hall of Famer, one might think that the Saints are lighting up the scoreboard with his arm. That’s not completely true — New Orleans is only 22nd in the NFL in receiving yards with an average of 244.6.
Minnesota is slightly better — ranking 16th at 254.9 yards receiving per game. On defense, however, the Saints are strong and have allowed only 210 per game.
Who will win and by how many points?
Options: Vikings or Saints, with ranges of 1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-9, 10-14, 15-17, 18-21, 22-24 and 25+
There are a lot of factors here and almost all point toward New Orleans. Five of the last six home teams playing on Christmas Day have won. Road teams tend to wilt if they are away from home on the holiday.
The Saints haven’t lost three in a row since the first three games of the 2016 season. The Vikings saw their best path to the playoffs vaporized at home by Mitchell Trubisky and the Bears. And the Saints really need to win and get their veterans some rest a week before the playoffs start.
Add that all together and it certainly points toward a New Orleans ‘W.’
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