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With a spot in the NFC championship on the line, the New Orleans Saints and Minnesota Vikings–two teams that have combined for just four losses in the last three months–will meet at U.S. Bank Stadium on Sunday.
Kickoff is scheduled for 4:40 p.m. ET and will be broadcast nationally on FOX. If you don’t have cable or can’t get to a TV, you can watch on your computer or on another streaming device by signing up for one of the following cable-free, live-TV streaming services. They cost a monthly fee but all come with a free trial, so you can watch today’s game at no cost:
FuboTV: Fox (live in 70-plus markets) is included in the “Fubo Premier” channel package, which is $19.99 per month for the first two months and $39.99 per month after that. It comes with a free 7-day trial, and you can watch on your computer via your browser, or on your tablet or streaming device via the FuboTV app
DirecTV Now: Fox (live in 39 markets) is included in all four channel packages, ranging from $35 to $70 per month. It comes with a free 7-day trial no matter what package you choose, plus you can get $25 off your first month if you enter promo code “BDAY2017”. You can watch on your computer via your browser, or on your tablet or streaming device via the DirecTV Now app
Sling TV: Fox (live in 17 markets) is included in the “Sling Blue” channel package for $25 per month. It comes with a free 7-day trial, and you can watch on your computer via your browser, or on your tablet or streaming device via the Sling TV app
Watching on Your Phone: If you want to watch the game on your mobile device, you can do so via either the NFL Mobile app or Yahoo Sports app, which are both free to download from both the App Store and the Google Play Store
Raise your hand if you thought back in Week 1 that when the Saints and Vikings were playing on Monday Night Football, you were watching a preview of a divisional-round matchup. Now, for those of you who have your hand raised, put it down, liar.
Minnesota, who were at home in that one, came away with the 29-19 victory, though it’s hard to read too much into that one. Sam Bradford and Dalvin Cook combined for 473 yards. Adrian Peterson was still on the New Orleans sideline, complaining about a lack of carries (that happened this season?). Case Keenum was probably taking a nap on the sideline. Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram were mostly used as afterthoughts. And both defenses have evolved greatly since then.
The matchup that stands out in the rematch is New Orleans’ offense against Minnesota’s defense. The Saints finished the year fourth in points, second in yards, first in yards per play and second in Football Outsiders’ offensive efficiency ratings, while the Vikes finished first, first, second and second in those same stats on the defensive side of the ball.
And within that matchup, the Vikings’ ability to contain the running backs will be crucial. The Saints duo of Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara averaged 115.75 rushing yards and 77.63 receiving yards per game on the season, while Minnesota allowed only one running back group to top 100 rushing yards in a game this season. That happened when Jonathan Stewart and Christian McCaffrey combined for 138 yards on the ground, and the result was Minnesota’s only defeat since October 1.
Then, on the other side of the ball is where two underrated units reside. Case Keenum has been a model of efficiency, throwing for 236.5 yards per game, 7.4 yards per attempt and a 22:7 TD:INT ratio this season, allowing Minnesota to establish one of the more balanced offenses in the league. New Orleans, meanwhile, entered the season with most believing their defense would again be their downfall, but instead they’ve produced one of the best secondaries in the NFL and have shown the ability to shut down opposing passing games.
Put it all together, and you have a really balanced matchup. The Vikings are favored by four points due to home-field advantage, but you have to think this one comes down to special teams, third-down efficiency, a key late takeaway or something small of that nature.
Either way, whoever wins is almost assuredly going to be the favorite to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl.